360-degree content puts the user in the center of an experience, allowing an individual to be atop Point Imperial on the Grand Canyon one moment, and at the lowest point in Death Valley the next. Every turn of the head -if in a headset- or tilt of the wrist -if on a phone- showing the totality of a location, in either a still image, recorded, or live video.
360 content allows users to experience a location without having to actually be present. Businesses and schools can use this to provide potential customers with tours of their offices and campuses. Alternatively, new and innovative marketing strategies could be built to provide consumers with a new way to interface with advertising.
While for many users VR is intriguing, the barrier to entry is high, and the technology may seem intimidating. 360 content allows users to bridge that gap using technology they’re already used to. There is no headset to put on, no new software package to learn, they can simply look at a video on their phone and find themselves in the middle of a new and exciting environment. This ease of use allows content creators to capture the attention of an audience in a way more traditional media cannot: through immersion.
As a gateway to VR the importance of 360 video cannot be overstated. Not all users are interested in complicated games or simulations, but 360-degree travel videos on YouTube regularly reach into the hundreds of thousands and even millions of views, while capturing users across every demographic. Co-opting these regular viewers of 360 content should be a much simpler link, particularly when paired with the low cost of Cardboard-type VR headsets.
Ultimately it comes down to human curiosity, from the earliest days in the fertile crescent mankind has pressed its boundaries exploring further and further from home. 360 video allows individuals to fill that need safely, but also to inform, educate, and maybe even prepare for the real trip next time. Whether to the store on the other side of town, or the Arctic Circle.