I pull the virtual reality headset from my face. For a fraction of a second I’m not sure where I am, before my eyes adjust to the light and I remember that I’m in a sparse, modern meeting room in Google’s New York YouTube offices. I’ve just experienced footage shot on Jump, Google’s 360 camera rig.
The Jump rig contains 16 cameras that record every angle simultaneously, before the imagery is stitched together. And I’m watching it back through a headset made out of folded cardboard, with the screen provided by a standard smartphone slotted into the front. Google calls it, quite simply, Cardboard. You might have seen one already, and had a go. Even if not, you’ve probably seen the 360 videos spreading across YouTube and Facebook, where you can change the angle of what you’re looking at by tilting your smartphone. There are thousands of them out there already, covering everything from sports events to video games, rollercoaster rides to pop videos.