YouTube live-streams in virtual reality and adds 3D sound

YouTube is introducing live-streamed 360-degree videos on its service. Google said select concerts from California’s Coachella festival would be the first to use the VR facility. In addition, it announced videos on its service could now be enhanced with "spatial audio", which simulates sounds coming from different directions.
The announcements were timed to coincide with the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) conference in Las Vegas, where several new virtual reality products are being launched. GoPro, Adobe and Sky Italia are among those demoing new tech at the event.
YouTube made it possible to play interactive 360-degree videos on its site just over a year ago. If viewed on a laptop, viewers can use a mouse to adjust their perspective. But if watched on a smartphone or VR headset, the experience becomes more immersive, as changes in viewpoint correspond to the movements of the device being used.
Until now, clips had to be uploaded to YouTube in their entirety and processed before they could be played back.
Google and Facebook are determined to be major players in this year’s hot tech trend – virtual reality – and are currently the best bets for sharing 360-degree videos. YouTube’s plan to allow anyone to stream 360 video live on its platform could transform the way its huge global audience experiences events.
It could allow broadcasters to put viewers in a seat at Wembley during the Cup Final, or in the front of a Glastonbury audience – and allow them to look around and feel part of the crowd. It could permit anyone with a cheap 360 video device to show their angle at a concert or a demo, though that would be likely to chew up their mobile data allowance in a hurry.
It’s another step in the democratisation of the media. But as we’ve already discovered, user-generated content can be fascinating, challenging but often extraordinarily dull. Just because you can look all around you, it does not mean there will be anything much to see.