Shot: A lens attachment & app to turn your iPhone into a VR camera
I stayed outside. My friend hustled his way through the fray of people inside the Apple Store, eager to have a new iPhone 6S in his hands on Friday last week. Like all of them, I had been an enthusiastic iPhone user until I bought a Samsung Galaxy Note 4 this past year. Today, besides almost solely buying the Note 4 so I could I could pair it with my Samsung Gear VR headset (after all what’s more exciting than Netflix in VR), I still love my Note. So, why did I wish I was inside buying an iPhone? Well...
Only a few days prior to the new iPhone announcement I learned about Shot. A camera lens attachment for the iPhone 6/6S and iPhone 6/6S Plus that allows you to create and watch immersive VR photos and videos. Setting aside the improved 6S camera quality, Shot achieves immersive quality images and videos because the two lenses—front and back—are tailored to increase the field of view of your phone’s cameras. In addition, Shot created an app which features a stream of social 360 content to scroll through.
Thankfully, all that is required of me is a little patience. Shot is working on an Android version of both the app and the camera lens attachment. Check out their Kickstarter campaign which went live today.
Imagine having the ability to capture 360-degree photos and nearly 360-videos (235 degrees) with something you already carry around everywhere. My friends and I immediately thought it would be awesome for hiking trips (i.e. in Yosemite where your surroundings tower over you), sporting events, and outdoors occasions. Or even for just catching someone doing something funny surreptitiously. There are many cool possibilities.
Many 360-degree camera solutions require multiple cameras and are costly, moreover, after capturing the pictures or videos you might even need to stitch the content together yourself. An example of a small 360-degree camera that is easy to use is the Ricoh Theta, but it can run you about $350.
The Shot duo—William Viana and Jorge Lería—based out of Madrid, Spain, told us they saw these problems and wanted to allow more people to afford to shoot VR-grade content in an easier manner.
The founders of Shot prototyped the attachment, comprised of two lenses, for months to arrive at the current solution. It’s easy to slide on and off your phone and meshes perfectly with the iPhone’s cameras.
It seems like sharing 360-degree content is the corollary of the way we already share our experiences visually everywhere we go in the form of Instagrams, Snapchats, Youtube videos, and Facebook mobile uploads. Last week, Facebook began rolling out 360-degree content in the Facebook Newsfeed. However, supporting 360-degree comes with a new set of challenges for both app makers and consumers. How do you make the things you want to share look good with this form of media? How do you make an app that doesn’t necessitate having a Google Cardboard all the time, but still shows off the 360-degree content? Will small VR viewers like Google Cardboard become ubiquitous?
Previously working at Spain social network Tuenti as engineers, William and Jorge are focusing their expertise on answering some of these questions with their Shot app. As a viewer, you can toggle between preview, full screen, and full screen with VR headset modes in the Shot app by using a small screen tap or changing the orientation of the phone from portrait to landscape. Or, contribute by opening the app, sliding on the attachment, and shooting VR with one click. They are hoping to finalize the product and scale with Kickstarter’s help. Unofficial early reports are that the price of the lens attachment will fall in the range of $90 to $100.
While I have not seen the output from using Shot in person yet, it may be the optimal choice for many given its price and compactness (if only I had an iPhone)!