Getty Images announced Tuesday, June 7, the creation of a new Virtual Reality Group aiming to grow the current stock of 12,000 360-degree still images amassed over the last four years.
This year, many new VR devices arrived on the market, including HTC Vive, Facebook's Oculus Rift and the forthcoming Sony PlayStation VR. However, these devices need a powerful computer and they also cost hundreds of dollars.
According to USA Today, the 21-year-old photo agency is planning to bank on the current emerging trend that makes immersive virtual reality (VR) to surpass static photographs as the dominant way users prefer to experience remote worlds. Getty CEO Dawn Airey declared in a statement that the VR technology and the business models addressing its use are still in their infancy, but it is expected that VR will become "a leading tool for visual storytelling."
Getty Images is planning to considerably boost it number of 360-degree images at the 2016 Rio Olympics. The photo agency is issuing 360-degree cameras to all Getty photographers traveling this summer to the Rio Olympics.
These devices are able to capture images in every direction. Consumers using high-end VR devices or just smartphones are then able to look around an environment in the same way as if they were standing in that same spot.
Getty also announced that it will provide VR videos to its clients through a new service called Getty Images Assignments. The company is adapting to the idea that the virtual reality trend via headsets like the HTV Vive, Oculus Rift or Samsung Gear VR is the future of media.
According to Engadget, Getty Images has announced at Google I/O event last month an agreement with Google to supply hi-res VR photos for Google Expeditions. The photo agency also partnered last year with Oculus Rift on a 360-degree app that would make VR images available to owners of Oculus Rift.