One of the world's most comprehensive stock photo agencies is dipping its toe into the virtual reality pool.
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Getty Images this week announced the launch of the Getty Images Virtual Reality Group—a new business dedicated to creating and distributing VR content. The library, which already houses more than 12,000 360-degree visuals, will add new content every day, including high-resolution gigapixel photos from major events and venues.
"The technology is still in its infancy—as are the business models addressing how to use it—but we can expect to see VR become a leading tool for visual storytelling," Getty CEO Dawn Airey said in a statement. "It is anticipated that over 14 million consoles will sell this year alone, and we are only on the cusp of what will be a tectonic plate shift in VR."
Getty began collecting 360-degree and gigapixel imagery four years ago during its role as official photographer at the 2012 London Olympics. The company has once again been tapped to capture the upcoming Rio Olympic Games, where photographers will be equipped with 360-degree cameras.
"The diverse range of 360-degree content that we produce—from the red carpet to the stadiums of the world's biggest sporting events and the front line of conflict—allows people to access information and experiences that were previously off limits," said Hugh Pinney, vice president of editorial content at Getty. "Virtual reality is completely transforming the way we view and experience world events."
The new Virtual Reality Group will also continue working with content partner 360cities.net to offer geo-located, interactive panoramic images.
Getty and Google last month announced a new deal through which Getty Images supplies high-res VR content from global current events for Google Expeditions. The photo service also collaborated with Oculus last summer to make its 360-degree imagery available for users of the Oculus platform via its 360° View by Getty Images collection.