ALLie Goes "ALLin" on 360-Degree Technology
Four months into the year of Virtual (and Augmented) Reality, how are we feeling about the technology? 2016, after all, is the year many analysts have been waiting for as it relates to this emerging tech market. We’re here now, and so far it has lived up to the hype.
Oculus Rift is here. Samsung has the Gear VR out there. HTC will begin shipping the Vive soon. Facebook’s in the game. And the list goes on. ABI Research expects that by 2020, more than 43 million VR devices in use—a 106 percent compound annual growth rate.
And while the boom in the headset segment will lead the way for virtual reality, there’s another part of the market that is equally as important, if not more so, to the technology’s viability: 360-degree cameras.
If you spent any time walking the tradeshow floors of CES, you already know that there are myriad players in this space creating unique and exciting products that will allow consumers to create, share, and consumer 360-degree content. The usual suspects like Samsung, LG, Sony, Nikon, Canon, and more are creating a range of products targeted to consumers as well as professional photographers and videographers. Then there are the players in the action camera market who are looking to get a head start on GoPro, who should be making a 360-degree action cam announcement any minute now. (No, their six-sided rig doesn’t count.)
But there’s one company that is setting itself apart in this space: ALLie.
All About ALLie
A subsidiary of IC Real Tech and a sister company of professional security solutions provider IC Realtime, ALLie is the consumer-focused group behind the ALLie Camera, a 360-degree product that’s about the size of a baseball and packs about as much punch as a 100 mph fastball. And its using the resources around the company to create a powerful product that isn’t much like anything consumers have experienced in this space.
Designed to be an in-home, always on solution, the ALLie Camera can act as a security camera to monitor a home, pet, or loved ones, or it can be used as a powerful 360-degree event camera for recording and sharing photos and videos of what’s happening. The company said it sees the product having applications everywhere from the nursery room to sports arenas.
“We wanted to bring in a consumer product that ties in the exciting 360/VR technology with the piece of mind and the everyday use camera. We’re giving the consumer a new way of looking at imaging in their home,” Mark Sherengo, ALLie’s new vice president of sales and marketing, said in an interview with Dealerscope. “In a lot of ways, we’re being compared to the other products that are out there, and there are a lot of event and action cameras out there. But the big thing about us is that we’re always on. The name for the ALLie Camera says it all—we’re always on, we’re an all-immersive experience.”
By that, Sherengo is referring to the ALLie Camera’s ability to run 24 hours a day. It plugs into a wall outlet, so unlike other 360-degree cameras, it won’t overheat, it’s battery won’t die after a few hours—it stay on until the user decides to shut it down or move it to a new location.
What’s more, the ALLie Camera has two-way communication with a built-in speaker and microphone—something that no competitor in the space can currently boast, according to Sherengo. And, as ALLie recently announced, they’ve integrated with YouTube to bring live streaming functionality to the device, which means users can broadcast in true 4K to a private audience or the world through the popular online video platform.
Always With You
When asked what attracted him to the opportunity to hop on board with a company that was taking a different approach to a brand new technology, Sherengo didn’t hesitate to point to his past experiences. “I’m not new to the space, and I know the growing pains that go along with turning a product into the number-one selling product in the market,” he said. “I worked for the National Football League, I took analog to digital, I was part of Fuji launching their first digital camera because film was going away, and I saw what happened to a billion dollar business when digital cameras came out—I was part of the digital camera company Pentax when cellphone point and shoot cameras took over, and that whole thing changed.”
“With the consumer technology that’s available right now and the number of 360-degree cameras that are in the market, the mobile device eventually—because they have two lenses and two sensors, and since most of the other cameras are software driven technology—they will be able to do event, 360-degree spherical photography in the near future,” he said.
And what makes ALLie different is that the camera can stay at home or wherever the user sets it up, but the camera, through the ALLie app, is always with them.
“I think 360-degree cameras, in my experience with selling them, eventually if your cellphone does the same thing, you’re not going to need that technology,” said Sherengo. “So having the connectivity, having the smart home potential, having monitoring and security and all of that potential, on top of the 360-degree experience I think is a way to build a strong future. That’s why I’m here.”
Future Proof Technology
Until that time comes, though, the 360-degree and VR markets have to ensure that they’re technology remains ahead of the curve, that people don’t forget about it, and find a way to ensure that it’s nothing more than a flash in the pan (see: 3D TV). So how do they do that?
“That’s the question that our board is exploring right now,” Sherengo said. “Our solution, first of all, makes sure that you use it everyday. And if we’re successful in that, it won’t go away. Something you use everyday is something that’ll survive. And something that brings you emotional peace of mind and joy in sharing and experiencing will not go away. It just changes how you use it.”
So we’ve got ALLie covered, but what about the rest of the VR and 360-degree market?
Luckily, as Sherego pointed out in our interview, the technology has seen some major backers come forward and make a commitment to producing the type of content needed to ensure that this platform remains viable. News outlets like The New York Times and CNN and CBS are already hard at work creating original stories that can be experienced in VR. Social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, on top of providing solutions to create 360-degree content, are giving users a way to seamlessly share their own 360-degree content.
Too many companies, media outlets, and content creators are committed to this technology at this point for it to just fade away.
“The only reason 360-degree technology is surviving is because of the support it’s getting from other industries,” Sherengo said. “The social sharing companies are championing this technology, the broadcasting people are doing it, the people that are already talking to the consumers are creating this experience, and the capture devices are just going to be what you use.”
As for ALLie, they’re already at work beta testing their technology in the National Basketball Association with the league’s Miami Heat. And Sherengo only expects things to take off from there.
“As all of those little things continue to grow and grow and grow, people are going to start seeing this on the professional side of things,” he said. “The adaption of 360-degree technology by networks, companies, and social sharing sites means that this technology is not going away. Really, it’s just about who’s going to win, who’s going to survive as the technology continues to adapt and change, who’s going to have the right solution for the consumer.”
No need to ask for his opinion on who he thinks that’ll be.