The hype around virtual reality (VR) continues to balloon as examples of the new storytelling tool hit were revealed at NAB 2016 this month.
It emerged that over 15 major media companies are now exploring the new video format and producing experimental VR titles.
It’s an impressive level of interest from content owners considering how early days it is for the video technology.
Outside of Google Cardboard VR goggles, the first generation of the VR headsets are just now arriving at consumers’ doors.
Consumer interest in VR technologies is palatable. All the major VR headsets sold out within days of being released – and the pricey HTC Vive sold 15,000 of its $800 headset in its first 10 minutes of availability.
VR headsets: strong retail sales already reported
Hardware makers have taken note. While HTC Vive and Oculus Rift VR headsets have been years in the making, smartphone makers Samsung, LG and Huawei have created their own versions of VR headsets, and many more companies and start-ups – including Lenovo, Mattel, Microsoft, and others – are jumping in with their own releases.
Media companies have also taken notice.
The 15 major firms that are exploring the video format include: CBS, CNN, Discovery, DirecTV, Disney, ABC News, Conde Nast, PBS, Fox Sports, Fusion, NBCUniversal, Sky, Syfy, Turner Sports, 20th Century Fox, New York Times, Vice Media, Huffington Post, Gannett Co and Wall St. Journal.
Some sectors of the media world are more eager than others. News outlets such as CNN, ABC News, PBS and New York Times have all launched VR divisions dedicated to creating VR news content.
For news video, VR represents an evolution in news coverage that lends itself to enhanced documentary video.
For cinematic VR experiences, initial forays have walked a thin yet exhilarating line between passive viewer and active player. 20th Century Fox, for example, has created a VR experience around its film “The Martian”; in the experience, the viewer, donning a VR headset, is placed inside the shoes of the film’s astronaut protagonist who must find a way to survive alone and with limited supplies on the planet Mars.
There are similar cinematic video games in the works for Star Wars, led by Lucasfilm’s ILMxLab.
Is VR the Gigabit App We’ve Been Waiting For?
There’s one large and obvious implication to the rise of VR: all VR content will be streamed online.
All VR content is delivered by broadband, and it will always be delivered by broadband.
Whether it be video games, remote learning, retail shopping, job training, or any other use for the technology that pops up, all of that content will be distributed online.
There are no hard and fast numbers for how much bandwidth a VR stream needs, but there’s no doubt that the experience will need to be buffer-free, lag-free, and hiccup-free for the consumer to fully enjoy it.
There will be increased video traffic traveling along broadband networks; more focus on the home network; and of course, more appetite for faster speeds.
And if VR is to …
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