The Codex

Stream your Gear 360 to your Gear VR (Hack)

Ok, ok. maybe it's not necessarily a hack per say. But it works 100% and although you can't do true 360 from the camera, you can view the live feed from either the front or rear facing camera of the 360. So without further adieu, let's get started.

Alright, now first for a little history. I actually figured out this fix sorta by accident but after further investigation, realized it works quite well for what I needed. I'm a coach for a Lego Robotics team (among other things) and as part of our project this year which dealt with space, we wanted to develop an AR controlled drone to be used on the ISS (International Space Station.) I know, cool huh? So as I'm trying to work out how this drone will be controlled to allow the pilot to see, I thought, wouldn't it be cool to view from the drone perspective in 360. Yeah I know most drone's now a-days have cameras and you can get a FOV kit for most of them. But not in 360. 


So I started playing around with my Gen 1 Gear 360 camera and Samsung S8 thinking I can just plop this baby on and stream to my Gear VR setup. Boy, was I in for a surprise. The Gear 360 can't stream live (the newer 2017 version does but more on that in a moment), and you can't live view to the Gear VR without it going into Oculus Home. You can however get a number of different apps that will put the phone in Google Cardboard mode (I use Package Disabler Pro) but you still can't put it into VR such as side by side mode. With our project due date getting closer and not finding any help on the Samsung forums, Reddit, or anywhere on the interwebs that could explain clearly how to do it, I was about to give up.

Then I went and got the newer Gear 360 (2017 edition). It can live stream in 2k, and records 360 vids up to 4k. It's sleeker than the original "eyeball" Gen 1 version. However, when you stream, you have to do it to an online platform such as Youtube, Facebook, or Samsung VR. This is great, if you want to stream an event, have Wifi, and don't mind the almost 30 second to a minute delay if the connect speed is crap. But this is going to be out in space (or at least in theory). We needed something more realtime or as low a latency as we could get. This solution just was not working out. Was just going to chalk it up to "needing further time to develop". Unfortunately, that would take so much away for the point of the project and the judges for the Robotics competition would just have some non-working mockup to look at. Have you ever tried to explain VR or AR to someone that has never done either? Watching them nod knowingly but with that glazed look in their eyes says it all.

Well, then about two days after this, I was working with the gear and saw I had this app called Samsung PhoneCast. I'd used it when I first got the gear but not much since. I actually forgot about it but remembered what it did. It allows you to "cast" on phone apps into VR. Games, videos, productivity apps, etc. got it. Eureka moment.

I loaded up the app and at the bottom of the interface is a button called labs. I click on "labs" and it shows me most of my compatible 2D phone apps that will work with PhoneCast and low and behold, Gear 360 Manager is there. Now the PhoneCast app is in VR and you can get it for free on the Oculus Store. This app I guess is still experimental though so not sure how it will work for some of you depending on the phone you have (only available for Samsung phones as far as I know (S6-S9 and Note)).  Finally as the app loads is shows up in this kinda outdoor camp environment as a large window showing the Gear 360 manager menu. From this point it works the same it does normally so I put it in live view and WAH LAH, full live stream straight from the Gear 360 camera through the Gear VR headset in VR without cardboard mode and as the camera moves I get a realtime feed of what it's viewing. Was kinda trippy to be honest but I mounted it on the drone and it works great. Haven't tested the full range yet of how far you can be from the camera before loosing connection but it is bluetooth so I would guess not too far.

So to recap, these are the things you need to get this to work. 
  • Samsung PhoneCast
  • Gear 360 (Gen 1 or 2017 Edition both work)
  • Gear VR (Oculus GO should work as well but haven't tested that yet)
  • Updated Gear 360 Manager software (if you have 2017 edition)
More coming soon to this site on hacks and fixes so stay tuned. In the mean time enjoy your "REAL" live stream to your Gear VR. Oh by the way, my Lego Robotics team won 1st place for Best Innovative Project using this. :)


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