One problem with shooting virtual reality video: There's nowhere for the crew doing the shooting to hide from a camera that sees around a full 360-degree circle.
Startup Double Robotics on Wednesday announced a product it thinks will help.
The company already sells telepresence robots in the form of a $3,000 iPad on a stalk that rolls around under the remote control of a person who wants to visit with distant coworkers, attend a conference in another city or take a class far away from the college campus. Now the robot can also work as a VR camera mount called the 360 Camera Dolly, and it's a lot less obtrusive than a human carrying a camera.
Double Robotics hopes this camera will ease the complicated process of creating 360-degree video, part of the broader virtual reality trend that's taken the tech industry by storm.
The 360 Camera Dolly works just like the telepresence robots and can be wheeled around by an operator using a Web browser.
An iPhone mounted on the robot below the VR camera supplies the network connection to control the robot and the camera so the operator can see where the robot is going. The camera itself isn't included, but the robot will handle one weighing up to 5 pounds.
With a price of $3,000 for the mount and robot -- though not some accessories you'd get with the telepresence robot -- you're not likely to buy one of these to shoot your kid's birthday party.
But VR goggles are arriving from electronics giants like Sony and Samsung, while virtual reality abilities are being built into Google's next Android software for mobile phones. So a lot of people are bound to want to make VR content like advertisements, virtual tours, concert videos and real estate promotions.