$10K 16-Lens ‘Live Planet’ Camera System Streams 360 Degrees in 4K

Every tech company and their uncle seems to be piping up with an announcement for the smallest, fastest, most powerful or cheapest action camera, drone or 360-degree camera this year. Only time will tell which ones will make the cut, the ‘Live Planet’ camera looks like a powerhouse in the making, offering 360-degree footage shot with 16 lenses and a cloud-based platform for stitching it together.

What makes it an interesting project, though, is the team behind it. Live Planet is being launched by Halsey Minor, the entrepreneur who founded tech review site CNET. Minor felt that the growing virtual reality marketplace lacked the infrastructure needed to support the widespread consumption of VR he envisioned, so he went out and made his own system, from scratch. “I think we are going to make the VR industry real,” he told Recode in an interview.

In addition to the cloud platform and software developed render the footage, the system can also encode footage to be viewed on platforms such as Oculus, Gear VR, Google Cardboard and more.

The camera features 16 lenses, each with a synchronised sensor, which can shoot 4K at 30fps when live streaming or 60fps when recording to the device’s built-in 512GB of storage. For connectivity, the camera has Ethernet, Wi-Fi, USB, HDMI and SDI outputs on its base.

The Live Planet camera will weigh in at 600 grams (1.5 lbs), though at present its creators are showing off a slightly bulkier prototype. At US$10,000, Minor is clearly targeting the media industry, pricing out average consumers but offering quite a bargain compared to Nokia’s US$60,000 Ozo. At the hobbyist end of the price spectrum, several devices such as US$400 Ricoh Theta and the US$499 Giroptic 360cam can also live stream 360-degree footage, though at a much lower resolution.

Live Planet will be available for pre-order from some time today (Friday) at a reduced price of US$4,995 for the first 500 units, after which it will cost US$9,995, and it’s expected for release in late 2016.