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360fly scores $17.8M as investors bet big on interactive 360-degree video (exclusive)

Above: 360fly's 360-degree camera

Image Credit: 360fly

Just as the first-person video craze is reaching mainstream consumers, investors already have their eyes set on the next hot thing: interactive 360-degree videos.

360fly, a company that has developed its own 360-degree camera, announced today that it has received $17.8 million, its first institutional funding round, led by Catterton, Qualcomm Ventures, and others.

Interactive 360-degree videos are more like recorded experiences that you have the freedom to explore, rather than footage where you’re stuck looking at whatever the camera is pointing at.

360fly’s flagship camera is rugged and portable, similar to the first-person video cameras we’re seeing from companies like GoPro. In addition to shooting a full 360 degrees horizontally, it also shoots 240 degrees worth of video vertically.

360fly's 360-degree video Camera

Above: 360fly’s 360-degree video Camera

Image Credit: 360fly

The company says it plans to use the funding to prepare for the consumer launch of its $499 camera this fall, which includes building an online platform for its videos, as well as iPhone and Android apps. 360fly is also developing a smartphone attachment that will let you record 360-degree videos right from your phone (the big limitation is that it only shoots 90-degrees of vertical video).

The technology behind 360fly’s camera comes from years of research from engineers at Carnegie Mellon University, CEO and president Tim O’Neil told VentureBeat in an email. Even more intriguing: O’Neil says the original patents for 360fly’s tech were spun out of CMU’s Robotics Institute after they were used by NASA in one of the Apollo missions.

So who would use one of these things? O’Neil says the camera will be able to capture video that’s ideal for virtual reality headsets like the Oculus Rift. He also expects the company’s smartphone attachment to shoot video that looks almost as good as the company’s pro-grade lenses, which have been used by CBS Sports, Discovery Live, and Matchbox 20 for live event streaming.

Given the rapid success of GoPro and its ilk, as well as promising virtual reality solutions on the horizon from Oculus and Sony, there’s a good chance consumers will warm up to 360-degree videos over the next few years. We’ll need plenty of content to drive VR platforms, after all. And the athletes who helped popularize action video cameras likely won’t be content with shooting in one direction for much longer.

360fly isn’t alone in the 360-degree video market, but its camera differs from the competition because it uses only a single lens to capture its video. Other 360-degree cameras, like the Centr and Bubl, rely on multiple cameras, which can add additional expense and complexity. The single camera lens also lets 360fly record 360-degree video instantly — competing cameras have to stitch their video together from separate lenses.

With this round of funding, which brings the company’s total funding to nearly $21 million, O’Neil says 360fly likely won’t need another round. But, he noted, “if we decide to move more aggressively into other vertical markets or geographic regions, or a potential strategic partner offers us a unique opportunity, our plans could change.”

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13 comments
Shawn Starr
Shawn Starr

Any specs on resolution or Frames Per Second? VR needs high FPS.

Seamless images could be cool but only if the resolution is decent.

Giroptic will be on sale in november and is touted as the worlds first HD 360 video camera. Hopefully the image quality will be good in low light.


BubleCam is another option.


Theta Camera is another option, but no video...complaints about low resolution.


Most of these cameras require you to downlaod a specialized viewer application to see the content. So please don't get hopes up about posting to youtube right away;)

Lisa Bellamy
Lisa Bellamy

I want this! This is really kicking it up a notch!

Eyal Biebar
Eyal Biebar

GoPro disruptive!! Really impressive.

Graham Reeves
Graham Reeves

How is this interactive... and not just 360 video?

Nishi Fertig-Aus
Nishi Fertig-Aus

I suppose the facetted receptors / sensors are placed alongside the inner surface of the body.

Ava L Villegas
Ava L Villegas

I was waiting for this! No longer do I have to capture one angle.

Shawn Starr
Shawn Starr

GoPro already makes the highest quality "TRUE 360 degree camera"....meaning no blank spot on the floor.  Downside is that you need 6 of them to make it work. I'm sure as a public company, they are already working on a more consumer friendly version. http://www.360heros.com/

Devindra Hardawar
Devindra Hardawar

Like any 360-degree video, you have the ability to pan around the footage as you're watch it.