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Getty Images 360
In a 360 image from Getty, the teams line up before the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Round of 16 match between Netherlands and Mexico at Castelao on June 29, 2014, in Fortaleza, Brazil. (Photo by Robert Cianflone / 360 / Getty Images)

Getty Images has launched a new business that it hopes will provide its users with an even richer visual experience as it dives deeper into the creation and distribution of virtual reality content.

The Getty Images Virtual Reality Group provides access to more than 12,000 premium 360 images with new content added daily. The group also promises high res gigapixel content from key events and venues and high quality VR production through Getty Images Assignments.

The company says in a news release that it began building out its 360 and gigapixel imagery four years ago, pioneering the use of the technology as the official photo agency of the International Olympic Committee at the 2012 London Olympics. Getty says every one of its photographers at the upcoming Rio Olympic Games will be equipped with a 360 camera.

“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,” said Getty CEO Dawn Airey. “It is anticipated that over 14 million consoles will sell this year alone (TrendForce), and we are only on the cusp of what will be a tectonic plate shift in VR.”

The group is the second in two days unveiled by Airey and Getty. On Monday, the visual communications company announced the creation of a new Innovation Group tasked with creating products and services that support Getty’s mission to break new ground in the field.

Hugh Pinney, vice president of editorial content at Getty, said virtual reality is completely transforming the way we view and experience world events.

“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 frontline of conflict — allows people to access information and experiences that were previously off limits,” Pinney said.

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