It’s hard to announce an action cam’s availability the same week industry heavyweight GoPro shows off its latest. But while the GoPro Hero5 Black might own the hype right now, the Nikon KeyMission 360 looks a whole lot like the future.
Nikon gave a glimpse of the KeyMission 360 in January at CES, but now it’s sharing the full details–and actually releasing it. The small black cube has a 20-megapixel sensor on each side, each capable of shooting 1080p and 4K. The two roughly 180-degree lenses combine to give a fully immersive view of the world, thanks to clever onboard software that stitches the images together. It can also shoot 30-megapixel, 360-degree stills, but as with most action cams, you’ll mostly be using it for video.Unlike most action cams, though, the KeyMission 360 is built not just for video, but for virtual reality. Its footage will feel more at home on YouTube 360 than on more traditional platforms. This is an action cam for the Cardboard set. Nikon even tosses in a head-mounted smartphone viewer with the $500 camera, in case its intentions weren’t perfectly clear. You can shuffle your videos over to your smartphone over Wi-Fi, and edit them once they’re on there with Nikon’s app.
Plenty of 360 cameras exist, and plenty more action cams, but Nikon’s the biggest name by far to combine both in a tiny, relatively affordable package. The KeyMission 360’s ruggedness keeps pace, as well. It’s waterproof to nearly 100 feet, shockproof from over six feet, and freeze-proof as low as 14 degrees Fahrenheit, all without additional protection. Nikon also offers a range of 10 mounting accessories, from mounts to head straps to harnesses and more, and the KeyMission 360 has a quarter-inch socket that should work with existing accessories as well.
Nikon introduced two more traditional action cams as well, the $400 KeyMission 170 and the $280 KeyMission 80. They have decent specs and decent price points and look fine enough. Suddenly, though, they and other traditional action cams seem a whole lot less interesting. Not when Nikon’s got something that sees every angle–including the very near future.