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Nikon’s new action camera looks…weird. Like most action cameras on the market, it’s a cube. Unlike most action cameras on the market, it has two lenses, one on each side of the device. Why would this be necessary? For 360 degree video, of course! The Nikon KeyMission 360 is Nikon’s first serious foray into the GoPro-dominated market, and it’s commitment to 360 degree video may very well be enough for it to stand out in the market as VR and interactive video take off. Announced at CES this year, the camera looks totally unique and packs a good amount of potential in its small frame.

Image: Nikon

Image: Nikon

Ignoring its cumbersome name, the KeyMission 360 is a pretty neat piece of tech. Recording in 4K, it uses custom image stabilization and stitching software to create true 360 degree video without the need for complex rigs or creative editing tricks. Since it’s all contained in a small footprint, Nikon is hoping it beat GoPro to the punch with 360 video to become the most popular camera of its type on the market.

If you’re having trouble visualizing what “360 video” means, imagine watching a roller coaster point-of-view video, but being able to look around you at any point – just like you were actually on the ride. It’s perfect for virtual reality and can create some pretty interesting interactive movies and music videos. This new form of interactive video has been popular among the few, but passionate, VR enthusiasts in the past year. YouTube began supporting 360 video, too, but this new frontier of interactive video is just taking off. Easier ways to create this kind of video will only help.

Image: Nikon

Image: Nikon

The KeyMission 360 looks like it has two microphones on each of its sides, and is equipped with bluetooth, Wi-Fi and NFC. There’s sure to be a wide variety of accessories as well, a la GoPro’s strategy. After all, the KeyMission 360 wouldn’t be especially useful if it wasn’t rugged like a GoPro, and thankfully it is. The KeyMission 360 will survive dunks of up to 100 feet of water and is shock proof up to 6 meters.

Other details are still scarce, but Nikon is choosing to focus on what matters most for the KeyMission 360’s public unveiling. Since it’s competing directly with GoPro, driving the message home with a focus on ruggedness, a small form factor (even though exact details aren’t known) and 4K video is a smart approach. Knowing Nikon, you can expect image quality to be stellar. While frame rate (and pricing) remain a mystery, Nikon can afford to lean on its strong reputation here. We’ll find out more about the KeyMission 360 in the coming months before its official launch in March 2016.

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