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GoPro introduces 360-degree VR camera

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 12-08-2016 Jefferson Graham

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LOS ANGELES — Struggling action camera maker GoPro finally has a 360-degree virtual reality camera available for the public. One catch, though: It’s aimed towards pros, not consumers.

GoPro, which has seen sales slide dramatically over the last year, is releasing its six-camera Omni rig on Aug. 17, the company said today.

The Omni isn’t cheap. The price tag is a hefty $5,000 and comes with 6 GoPro Hero Black cameras, remote control, extra battery power and a license to use its software. The software, which comes courtesy of GoPro’s acquisition of Savoie, France-based Kolor, which joined the firm in April, is offered to automatically “stitch” the six shots from the different cameras into one. The rig is also available without the cameras, accessories or software license, for a flat fee of $1.500.

The 360-degree look for filmmaking has taken off this year in a big way. Facebook and YouTube opened up their platforms to the “360” videos, which offer viewpoints from left, right, above and below, for a more immersive look at the world.

Several consumer VR cameras are available from Ricoh, Kodak, Samsung and 360fly, but GoPro has yet to participate on this level. The company said in January it looked to release a consumer 360 camera "soon,” but has yet to reveal more. It  plans to introduce a new update to its Hero line of tiny cameras in the fall.

(GoPro has a more extensive 16-camera rig, the $15,000 Jump Odyssey, but it’s not available to the general public, just “select industry professionals.”)

Meanwhile, while filmmakers waited for GoPro to finally release a VR camera, several workarounds became available, with rigs that put a bunch of GoPro cameras together for VR from companies like Izugur and Freedom 360

However, they’ve been anything but easy to use, requiring lots of time syncing the multiple cameras and making sure all have sufficient battery.

The Omni aims to fix that with a one-touch remote to start all six cameras at the same time, and more battery power in the Omni Rig.

Follow USA TODAY's Jefferson Graham on Twitter, @jeffersongraham. 

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