Nokia makes its move with OZO, a 360-degree VR camera

29 Jul 2015

Former phone giant Nokia has finally revealed its mystery project, launching the OZO camera into the world of virtual reality.

We’ve been waiting around for years, really, to see what Nokia had up its sleeve after the company’s painful demise played out in front of our very eyes.

Once valued at an amazing US$320bn, Nokia’s stranglehold on the mobile phone market was emphatic and long-standing.

Then the iPhone came out in 2007 and the game changed. It changed so much that the Finnish company’s epic decline seemed almost natural.

What didn’t seem natural, perhaps, was Microsoft buying out a chunk of the company – the phone arm, in particular – for US$7.2bn two years ago, before recording a gigantic US$7.6bn impairment charge mainly due to the Nokia acquisition and other restructuring costs.

In between we saw massive job losses, peaking at 7,800 losing their positions earlier this month.

The Finnish line

But Nokia remained, and what was left of it after the Microsoft deal was looking to the future – we just never really knew what that future was. There was HERE Maps, of course, which has gone from strength to strength it seems.

But there was something missing.

Then last week rumours circulated that VR was the new modus operandi at the group and, after an event in Los Angeles today, it appears that those rumours were true.

Nokia's OZO camera

OZO captures “stereoscopic” 3D video, utilising eight shutter sensors synced up and spread out.

It’s basically a commercialised VR camera, but it’s not for the average Joe, rather the average production company.

It has a similar number of microphones, with the software enabling “real-time 3D viewing”.

VR is in its infancy at the moment, however, it’s due an extensive growth spurt. Facebook signalled this more than a year ago when it bought Oculus for around US$2bn, with Google and Apple shaping up for their go at the dawning industry with moves of their own.

Back in May, GoPro, a pioneer of modern camera production, announced its position in the VR sphere, after the company developed new hardware for capturing spherical photos and videos.

Now Nokia is trying to get in on the ground floor too.

“We expect that virtual reality experiences will soon radically enhance the way people communicate and connect to stories, entertainment, world events and each other,” said Ramzi Haidamus, president of Nokia Technologies.

“With OZO, we plan to be at the heart of this new world.”

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic