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Nokia Ozo – The Virtual Reality Camera that Redefines the Company?

Nokia Ozo

Nokia, the former handset maker recently announced a spherical virtual reality camera named the OZO in LA. The camera is a smooth and spherical unit with multiple bulging camera nodules resembling a bug-eyed look.

It is not the first 360-degree camera by any shot but it is one way to reimagine Nokia and may be it will soon invest in more mobile phones in the future. But as of now, this is one part of the reimagining part.

Microsoft had bought Nokia’s handset business two years back and since then, it has all been downhill as the company recently wrote off $7.6 billion in Nokia costs, much higher than the original purchase price. The future path is still unclear on the outside but as with the launch of this product, Nokia is busy trying out new technologies and laying out its vision.

The Nokia Ozo Launch

Nokia announced Ozo, a next-generation camera that can capture audio and video from all angles possible, i.e. 360 degrees. The device is now in preproduction phase and expected to power virtual-reality experiences for Hollywood, the future media, as well as the advertising industry. The device is also expected to be sold in five figures.

It has a lot of selling points though:

  • It’s a camera that can make virtual reality in real time with live monitoring feature and rapid playback.
  • VR footage always needed to be digitally stitched together but with Ozo, one can render lower-resolution video for within minutes.
  • This camera will be a part of VR creative tools. In recent months, GoPro announced a spherical camera for immersive video recording and a 16-camera system for working with Google Jump, which is a full-featured ecosystem for VR filmmaking.
  • The Nokia Ozo is said to be the most advanced VR filmmaking platform since it’s spherical rig is like that of a large cantaloupe and weighs 6 pounds. It has 8 optical image sensors while the audio is captured in three dimensions by 8 different microphones.
  • Nokia Ozo can be fixed to a standard tripod and the camera supports standard video formats. The camera can work within a filmmakers’ existing workflows.

A demonstration of capabilities

The first demonstration of the device was a trio of movie clips including a news clip about legalization of gay marriage, a clip of scripted comedy and the final clip of a music video dragging the viewer toward her.

The demos were shot through Oculus Rift and HTC Vive headsets and the clips were being rendered live from raw data and not digitally stitched together.

The sound seemed to track my position in the demonstration since Nokia’s audio rendering technology can recreate binaural audio depending on the direction of your gaze.

A Departure for Progress?

Virtual Reality is not something you associate with Nokia but although it may seem like a big departure for the company, it doesn’t intend to fade away into oblivion. Nokia Technologies is also said to be announcing an Android phone soon, according to recent reports.

The market for high-priced VR rigs is smaller but the company is known to turn itself around since the beginning of its existence 150 years back. It started out as a paper mill and now making its way into virtual reality. Nokia Ozo is set to create amazing experiences for people and also preparing to let people communicate and connect to each other in different ways possible.

The Nokia Ozo is part of a planned portfolio of digital media solutions for Nokia and it remains to be seen if this move will pay off for a company, which seeks to reinvent itself with new technologies.

Pricing and full specifications of the Ozo will be announced soon, and is expected to be shipped out in the last quarter of 2015.