Technology in video recording and presentation has been moving forward just as quickly as other technologies. As racers, we have seen advancements in video recording add value to our post-race evaluation and entertainment. Not long ago, a new generation of sport video devices came to market and they are now making their way into auto racing, and that is the 360-degree camera.
As the name suggests, the 360-degree camera takes a video of everything around it. The video image is then processed so that the viewer is watching a fairly normal view of the standard video frame, but with a twist. Because the camera has recorded everything around it, with a swipe of the mouse or finger, you control what you are watching. If you want to see next to you or behind you, simple controls allow for this. No longer do you need to worry about a front-facing camera with picture-in-picture of the rear-facing camera and then missing the view to the side of the car.
After seeing a sample video and talking briefly with the owner of the camera, I took the plunge. I chose the 360fly. The 360fly is available at many retailers, including Best Buy. For $400 it comes with the camera, two different double-faced tape mounts, a charging/sync base and a tilt mount. The setup is simple and the basic functions of the software are straightforward. The video needs to be viewed from a supported platform or website. For the 360fly, this includes You Tube and Facebook. Some browsers aren’t yet compatible with the technology, Apple’s Safari, for example. Additional accessories include various mounts and a Google Cardboard viewer that allows you to turn your smart phone into an interactive experience like no other. Live streaming also is available with the 360fly and partner Livit.
One recent weekend at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, garage 15 became the hub of technology as fellow racers came and went to get a chance to see the results of the videos produced. Most of them left ready to drive to the nearest store to buy one for themselves. The recording and playback was flawless. The recorder was on the top of the DemonSpeed Motorsports 944 Spec for every session out and also went out in the Thunder race group on the roof of a couple different GTS cars.
Operation was simple, with a single button on the recorder and downloading was done with the charging/sync base or with a wifi connection. The recorder also is Bluetooth-enabled for video controls. The onboard memory is big enough to store two hours of video, which is plenty of space so you won’t have to run back to the computer to download constantly. An added bonus is that you never need to worry about which way the camera is pointing since it records everything.
These cameras are by far the biggest game changer in video systems that I have seen in the 20 years I have been racing. A 4K version of the camera is due to be released soon, and I am sure that future additions will have the ability to include features like data overlay. For the value they provide, this camera is well worth adding to your track equipment.
Sample 360-Degree Videos