GoPro is finally sharing more details about the consumer 360-degree camera that CEO Nick Woodman teased way back at CES 2016. It’s called the GoPro Fusion, and it will shoot up to 5.2K video at 30 frames per second — good enough to just squeeze past the 4K capability of the new Samsung Gear 360 and the Nikon KeyMission 360. An early sample video provided by GoPro (seen below) shows the Fusion could compete with them on quality, too.
GoPro didn’t share any further specs or pricing information, saying only that the camera “will see a limited commercial release by the end of 2017.” In fact, Fusion will be available this summer, but only to “brands, agencies, content professionals” as part of a pilot program. That’s potentially frustrating, even if it’s kind of how GoPro typically treats its camera releases. The company has always sent new cameras to athletes and professionals before they’re released — they just typically don’t tell anyone.
Frankly, the most interesting thing about the Fusion right now is that in the press release, GoPro did backflips to avoid using the term “360-degree.” Instead, the company highlights a feature called “OverCapture” — essentially the ability to pull full HD imagery out of the 5.2K recording sphere. (The company doesn’t specify if that’s photos or videos, but I’d assume both.)
“Fusion is just that, the ability to capture every angle simultaneously… as though you had six GoPro cameras fused into one,” Woodman is quoted as saying.
That’s an ambitious idea, but if you stare at the horizon a bit, it’s where the industry is heading. Many cameras allow you to shoot a bunch of frames first and pick your favorite later. The newest smartphones are even doing some version of this — Apple will select the “best” frame when you shoot a burst of photos, and both Samsung’s and Google’s latest phones take multiple shots when you press the shutter and combine the best elements of those into the final image.
One of the most frustrating things about using a GoPro is when you realize you weren’t recording after you did something crazy. Shooting in all directions at all times is a brute way of solving that problem, and it will be a big challenge for battery life and storage. It’s hard to tell from this announcement how exactly GoPro plans to execute on this idea, but I’m excited to see them try.