GoPro acquires virtual reality technology company

The camera-maker for adventure enthusiasts buys Kolor to add immersive and interactive 3D video best experienced through virtual reality goggles.

Nick Statt Former Staff Reporter / News
Nick Statt was a staff reporter for CNET News covering Microsoft, gaming, and technology you sometimes wear. He previously wrote for ReadWrite, was a news associate at the social-news app Flipboard, and his work has appeared in Popular Science and Newsweek. When not complaining about Bay Area bagel quality, he can be found spending a questionable amount of time contemplating his relationship with video games.
Nick Statt
2 min read

In this spherical video, viewers can look in any direction by clicking arrows in the corner of the screen. Soon enough, all you'll need to do is look around while wearing a virtual reality headset. Screenshot by Nick Statt/CNET

GoPro is adding new ways to make extreme video even more out there -- with virtual reality.

The company said Tuesday it had acquired French software maker Kolor. Kolor's technology stitches together photos and videos into interactive media. Terms of the deal, announced as part of GoPro's first quarter earnings results, were not disclosed.

"We are excited to welcome Kolor to GoPro," GoPro CEO Nicholas Woodman said in a statement. "GoPro's capture devices and Kolor's software will combine to deliver exciting and highly accessible solutions for capturing, creating and sharing spherical content."

Imagine a moving version of Google Street View from the perspective of a hang glider or rock climber, which you can control by simply looking around. Combine that with a virtual reality headset, like the Facebook-owned Oculus Rift, and you'll have what GoPro hopes is a more realistic view of any location.

GoPro is searching for a way to expand its business beyond simply selling cameras for skiers, race drivers and other sports-adventure enthusiasts. The company is reportedly planning to enter the drone market; GoPro-equipped drones are frequently used to record landscapes for real estate companies and film movie sequences. Now, the company is investing in spherical video to convey the sensation of being part of not just extreme feats, but NFL games, live concerts and other events.

To take it up a notch, virtual reality can enhance those sensations.

"Kolor's mission is to enable the ultimate visual experience -- to transport an audience to another time and space," Kolor CEO Alexandre Jenny said in a statement. "When the best spherical media software is combined with the world's most versatile capture devices, our imagination become our only limitation. We're excited to see what the world captures and shares with GoPro and Kolor."

GoPro and Kolor will be competing against much bigger rivals. For the past two years, Google has offered free online software to create interactive photo-spheres that can be embedded in Google Maps, and the company has its own virtual reality platform, Google Cardboard, to help developers create more VR experiences. Facebook in March said it would support spherical videos on its News Feed and plans to incorporate them into Oculus.