GoPro, HumanEyes Join Crowded Field With Slick New Virtual Reality Cameras

Editors' pick: Originally published May 13.

If you like state-of-the-art tech gadgets and still have a tax refund burning a hole in your pocket, you're on the verge of getting two new contraptions to play with. 

More virtual reality tech gear is flooding the market this week, GoPro (GPRO) and Jerusalem-based HumanEyes Technology, each took steps in launching their new cameras. On Thursday, GoPro reportedly began shipping its $15,000 Odyssey camera as part of an early testing program, while HumanEyes made its Vuze camera available for preorder the same day.

The Odyssey, announced in May 2015 at Alphabet's (GOOGL) Google I/O developer conference, is a 16-camera panoramic device that allow GoPro cameras to work in tandem with Google's Jump platform, which is designed to produce 360-degree, three-dimensional video. GoPro's new gadget joins its six-camera VR rig, Omni, which is currently available on preorder for a price of $5,000. The Odyssey's target market is likely to be professional filmmakers and corporations.

GoPro could not be reached for comment.

GoPro has been making significant bets in the VR field lately as sales of its core action cameras continue to weaken.

In April, GoPro launched the Omni and the Odyssey at a National Association of Broadcasters' event, and has developed mobile apps to manage the content they shoot. In April 2015, the company acquired Kolor, a VR software company that allows its users to combine photos and video footage to make virtual tours.

CEO Nicholas Woodman on a conference call with investors last week highlighted a GoPro VR app that lets users upload and share their own VR footage, according to a transcript of the call. The app is available for both iPhone and Android mobile devices.

"We think that our brand and our reputation translate directly into virtual reality and it's something that we're extremely excited about," Woodman said on the call when asked a question about the consumer VR market.

For HumanEyes' new camera, $799 will get buyers a 360-degree camera and tripod. A headset will let users watch their footage, while a Vuze app will let you control the camera remotely, and a Vuze studio will let you edit and share movies. Jerusalem's HumanEyes Technology made the product, which ships in October.

HumanEyes, according to its website, initially worked in 3-D imaging and created animated content, and just moved into VR with the release of Vuze.

A HumanEyes spokesman declined to give any preorder numbers but said the company is "pleased with the demand" for the camera.

At SXSW, an annual film and interactive media festival in Austin, Texas, HumanEyes was one of 11 companies in the VR exposition. A HumanEyes representative said the company was able to create the Vuze software based on proprietary software it already had, but needed to build the hardware for it.

Another VR contender may be in the market soon as well. Gizmodo and former tech journalist Peter Rojas tweeted that Google is reportedly announcing a standalone Android VR device. Google already sells Google Cardboard, a $15 headset made from, you guessed it, cardboard that lets viewers experience VR on their phones via mobile apps.

Google isn't the only tech giant to enter the VR market, as Facebook's  (FB) Oculus released its Rift VR headset on March 28. Rift is the first VR product by Oculus, which the Menlo Park, Calif., social media giant acquired in a $2 billion deal that closed in July 2014. 

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