Samsung is about to make it a lot easier for you to create your own virtual reality videos with its new Gear 360 camera. Unveiled alongside the company’s new Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge smartphones, the Gear 360 captures 360-degree videos and images that you can view on your phone or by using a VR headset.
I spent some hands-on time with the Gear 360, and I’ve got to say, it’s a pretty nifty little gadget.
The ball-shaped camera, features two 195-degree lenses — one on the front, another on the back. On top is a large record button, as well as a small display that lets you know which recording mode you’re using. Those modes include 360-degree still images, 180-degree videos, 360-degree videos, and more.
You select those modes using a button on the Gear 360’s left side; there’s also a Back button there. On the right side, you’ll find a large door that opens to reveal the camera’s removable battery and a microSD card slot.
If you’re shooting photos or videos in 360-degree mode, you’re obviously going to want to be sure you aren’t in the shot yourself. To that end, Samsung has enabled the Gear 360 to communicate with the company’s new Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge via Bluetooth.
That means you can do things like press the shutter button or select shooting modes from up to 50 feet away using your phone.
When you’re done shooting, the Galaxy S7 will automatically stitch everything together to make a single 360 photo or movie. If you don’t have an S7, Samsung says you can use a desktop app instead.
In terms of size, the water-resistant Gear 360 isn’t much larger or heavier than a baseball. Samsung is including a special mount you can use to hold the camera without obstructing its lenses. Fold out the mount’s legs, and it turns into a nifty little stand.
Samsung also says the camera’s base will accept any number of mounts and holders. The company will release its own line of accessories for the camera in the near future.
We still don’t know the pricing or availability of the Gear 360, but we’ll be sure to update you when we find out more.