Virtual reality and augmented reality are merging with our lives with incredibly fast pace–it has been speculated that in 5 years we are going to witness HMD (Head mounted devices) start-ups becoming “multi-billionaire companies”, according to Benny Arbel, the CEO of Inception VR.
Virtual Reality headsets are the key attraction at tech conferences and trade fairs, inviting audiences to experience the latest from the immersive technology of the future. Nonetheless, talking to people at the Berlin Tech Open Air, TOA16, showed that most anticipate getting a virtual or augmented reality headset once the devices get more generic to the public, more affordable and more applicable to our daily life.
Benny Arbel, CEO of Inception VR, and Miheer Walavalkar, CBO of LiveLike VR, presented a 15-minute talk that truly impressed the public! The presenters gave a sneak peek to what virtual/augmented reality in sports and entertainment will be and offered a broader vision of what this technology can bring us in the near future.
VR is still in its teething stages in the market and it’s going to be an exciting rise. It’s still possible to test it for little money, as we will show you at the end of the article.
1/ Sports in Virtual reality/Augmented reality
Miheer Walavalkar gave an impressive talk and blew us away when showing a simulation of how we will watch live sports in the about 3 years. The virtual reality viewing company that “enables broadcasters and sports teams to deliver immersive, live sports viewing experiences” was first to demo broadcast the tennis tournament 2015 ATP World Tour.
What makes LiveLike unique is that it mixes Virtual reality and Augmented reality at the same time. Check out a simulation of how we will watch football in the future with friends from around the world:
In this video, the sports screen is showing the TV feed and you can “control your own experience”. You also get to see the direct feed that focuses on all the best elements: different camera angles, behind the scenes, when watching soccer, the VR platform combines it all together.
Miheer explained that “the amazing thing is that while you are watching football you can interact with your football stars or be around them on the football field [...] by just using the close-up feature. This technology would be available in 2-3 years though”. By that time LiveLike is going to work hard on bringing the ultimate VR experience, making it possible to have “multiple holograms around you, on which you can do different things for each. For example, while looking slightly on the right you can be watching your statistics updating in real time so you don’t miss out on what’s going on or you can be just… shopping online. “You decide what to do” explained Miheer.
Thus, virtual and augmented reality can use tech in a innovative way, creating new spaces and making it possible to multitask more efficiently than ever before.
What is a current setback for the LiveLike product, however, is that wi-fi capabilities or the Internet streaming speeds are not even all around the world so the company’s most enthusing project is to make sure that they “provide high quality experience but in affordable bandwidth, which 3D and 360 just does not allow in this stage of time”. The approach of the company by now has been to find something that takes you to the point where the infrastructure is better. Only then, they can focus on the ultimate VR experience since “now in 4K is difficult to stream with an acceptable bandwidth”, says the CBO of the promising VR viewing company.
Miheer believes the Internet streaming speed around the world will rapidly improve in the next 2-3 years and thus, the company forecasts it can attract about 10 times more users or at least 100 million people:
2/ Virtual reality content
Other companies, like Inception VR, which see the great potential of virtual reality, are dedicated to deliver “premium content to consumers worldwide” and showcase engaging experiences in “heritage, music and culture”. The vision of Benny Arbel, CEO & Co-founder of Inception VR, is that “good VR content will be very much needed” even this year.
But how is VR content different from traditional content in cinema for example?
To explain this Arbel brings us back to the movie ‘Sliding doors’, a cutting edge movie from the 90s, where time splits in two different stories. The Inception VR CEO & Co-founder clarifies: “we did not have the choice which story to watch, we had to view the part the director wanted us to view, but with VR you do have a choice – there is interactivity, you can decide where to look, you can decide what type of experience you want to have and (even more) in different sessions you can have different experiences, which is great”.
Arbel’s talk “VR Storytelling - it's About Feelings, Man!” showed how with virtual reality content you embark on a journey, which is directed by you and therefore you feel and hear the story of the actors in the way you want.
In ‘Henry’ the hedgehog–the first experiences created by Oculus Creative Studio–the director changed different parameters every time because they realised VR created a different emotional response than what you would get from normal content creation. So “for example, close-up (standard feature obviously), with VR [...] is actually being close up to someone – you are in their face, you are in the space, which we reserve only for the people we love. So, we are much more connected to the character and we experience something completely different. When characters are falling or crying for example you feel much more with the character, it’s very different from when you are watching them from apart, otherwise you are with them in the same space. So, we need to re-learn the cinematic tools, some of the techniques we use in cinema, because they work differently in VR”.
The usage behaviour Inception VR has the goal to achieve is to educate their viewers how to make the best of virtual reality content. Arbel expects watching virtual reality content, “initially, [will be] a very individual experience, so you are not going to do it with others and it will not replace the TV, there are certain experiences that you enjoy doing and you will just enjoy doing it better with VR but in the future, that’s why Facebook bought the Oculus Rift, VR would be very social experience, which you will experience with others.”
The ‘Incentive VR’ company CEO & Co-founder, is convinced virtual reality content is not only about storytelling and entertainment but there is also “educational, medical, all sorts of other great applications, does not matter which analysts report you are reading–it is going to be multi billion dollar business”. Arbel suggested VR content market is going to be 20b dollar in 2 years, without including the massive games industry business, but just the other content. So, “very exciting time for everyone in the VR industry” the CEO concluded.
‘Incentive VR’ is working hard to get viewers all over the world to see the best art, the best music, the best shows, visit the best heritage sites–all you need is a VR headset.
3/ The cheapest from VR and AR
So by the time companies are working on better gesture control, which only Microsoft HoloLens, HTC Vive and Sony PlayStation VR currently provide, better position tracking and 360 degree head tracking, here is what we can do now to embark in the immersive experience for almost no money:
Splash is a free iOS app that captures 360° video on your phone in seconds, which you can send to your friends so they are able to “experience the atmosphere around you better”, explains the CEO, Michael Ronen. To use Splash app, also referred as the Snapchat for VR/360, you do not need anything more than your phone and a story to share, but you can also use specially designed glasses for even better immersive experience.
Pokemon Go is the biggest mobile game in the US history which shortly after its release attracted about 21 million daily users from US only, CNBC reveals. The augmented reality app is available on Android and iOS devices so there is no excuse for not having it!
The cardboard headset designed by Google is still the most affordable virtual reality headset, perfect for diving into the world of virtual reality. Now on sale for only $16.99!
It seems it’s going to be huge!