NBCUniversal, Google Ink Deal to Produce Multi-Episode VR

NBCUniversal and Google have teamed up to create and distribute 10+ multi-episode original 360-degree video and VR180 video productions, for “Saturday Night Live,” Bravo’s “Vanderpump Rules” and SYFY Wire among others. The two companies began their collaboration in January, producing a few 360-degree videos for “Saturday Night Live,” and, on Monday, they released two new videos related to “Vanderpump Rules,” which were produced with Google’s 360-degree video capture/production platform Jump. Continue reading NBCUniversal, Google Ink Deal to Produce Multi-Episode VR

Oculus Team Developing VR Experience Featuring Live Actors

At Facebook’s Oculus, a new project team is developing a VR experience powered by live actors. Oculus executive producer of experiences Yelena Rachitsky, who worked on Pixar’s first VR experience based on the movie “Coco,” describes it as a melding of indie video game “Journey” and immersive play “Sleep No More.” Rachitsky said the company is interested in creating the experience of live actors “without needing to be in a site-specific location.” The experience, tentatively slated for next year, could also create a new revenue stream for the nascent technology. Continue reading Oculus Team Developing VR Experience Featuring Live Actors

Facebook Said to Be in Early Stages of Developing Own Chips

As part of the company’s recent push to develop new hardware, Facebook is reportedly working toward designing its own custom chips to be used in its consumer devices, data centers and AI software. The social media giant is currently developing devices such as smart speakers and VR headsets, and building its own chips could provide more control over design and development of these projects. Facebook’s strategy follows similar approaches by other tech giants, including Google and Apple. Continue reading Facebook Said to Be in Early Stages of Developing Own Chips

Facebook’s Zuckerberg to Testify Before Congress Next Week

In light of Facebook’s latest revelation that data from as many as 87 million users — not the 50 million figure originally reported — was improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica, CEO Mark Zuckerberg admitted he made a “huge mistake” by not paying more attention to the potential for abuse. Facebook further revealed that marketers, using a now-disabled feature that distributed profile data connected to email addresses and phone numbers, could have harvested data from “most people on Facebook.” Zuckerberg is scheduled to appear before federal committees next week. Continue reading Facebook’s Zuckerberg to Testify Before Congress Next Week

CNET Review: Oculus Go, Facebook’s New $199 VR Headset

Facebook is getting ready to release Oculus Go, a new phone-free VR headset at a price point of $199. According to CNET, the standalone Oculus Go represents “entry-level accessibility” to virtual reality, an area of technology innovation they hope to see grow at a consumer level. While the games and apps available on Oculus Go seem similar to what’s already available via Samsung’s Gear VR, the design is “less clunky, and the integrated, cleaner, softer and smaller construction here is better,” writes CNET.

Continue reading CNET Review: Oculus Go, Facebook’s New $199 VR Headset

Facebook Strikes Significant Deals With MLB, Warner Music

Facebook and Major League Baseball have agreed to an exclusive deal through which Facebook now has rights to stream 25 afternoon MLB games live on its social media platform. This marks the first time a major sports league in the U.S. has agreed to broadcast regular season games exclusively on Facebook — and the decision was unanimous among MLB owners. Though neither party disclosed financial details, people close to the matter say it is valued between $30-$35 million. Facebook also signed a major licensing deal with Warner Music Group. Continue reading Facebook Strikes Significant Deals With MLB, Warner Music

HPA 2018: Direct View Cinema Displays to Displace Projectors

Film, and later, digital projectors have been the standard form of displaying movies since the art form’s beginning. But now, says veteran engineering executive in advanced imaging and sound Pete Ludé, so-called direct view cinema displays are poised to displace them. In an afternoon of HPA Tech Retreat sessions looking at new display technologies, Ludé drilled down into the use of emissive displays using millions of RGB LEDs. These giant displays, he said, offer tremendous dynamic range and beautiful pictures in moderate ambient light. Continue reading HPA 2018: Direct View Cinema Displays to Displace Projectors

Walmart Acquires VR Startup With Eye on Future of Shopping

Walmart’s tech incubator, Store No. 8 recently purchased Spatialand, a small virtual reality startup that specializes in software tools designed for transforming existing media content into immersive experiences. The acquisition is part of Walmart’s plans to create future shopping experiences for store locations and websites. Spatialand founder Kim Cooper and 10 employees will join Walmart; Store No. 8 principal Katie Finnegan will serve as interim CEO. Financial terms were not revealed. Continue reading Walmart Acquires VR Startup With Eye on Future of Shopping

Huawei VR2 Headset Lauded for Comfort, Res, Sound Quality

At CES 2018, Huawei made the U.S. debut of its Huawei VR2 headset, which had been announced in October in China. The standalone unit resembles the Oculus or Vive rather than the Gear VR; the user attaches a phone, tablet or PC via USB-C and then enjoys the VR experience at a resolution of 1,600 x 1,440 per eye. The unit also features a 90Hz refresh rate, which reduces eyestrain and motion sickness. The controller, made of the same bright white polymer as the headset, offers a clickable touchpad. Continue reading Huawei VR2 Headset Lauded for Comfort, Res, Sound Quality

Virtual Reality Execs Advocate VR Standards, Open Systems

Execs from HTC, Hulu, GoPro and Black Box VR looked at “Tapping Virtual Reality’s Real Potential” during a panel discussion at CES 2018. Each company had its own strategies, but everyone agreed on one thing: the need for the nascent industry to create standards and adopt open systems. “If you’re making a fitness app, you don’t want to have to optimize for every platform,” noted HTC senior vice president of virtual reality Rikard Steiber. “It’s too hard, doesn’t scale and isn’t sustainable. We as an industry must push towards an open platform.” Continue reading Virtual Reality Execs Advocate VR Standards, Open Systems

Facebook, Universal Music Ink Licensing Deal for User Videos

Vivendi’s Universal Music Group, the world’s largest record company, has licensed its music catalog to Facebook. The deal, which focuses on the music in user-generated videos, covers songs that will be used in the background on videos and so-called social experiences on Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and Oculus. For Facebook, the deal is aimed at encouraging users to post more videos, key to the company’s current video-centric strategy. A day before this deal was struck, Universal also reached an agreement with YouTube. Continue reading Facebook, Universal Music Ink Licensing Deal for User Videos

VR and AR Expected to Further Redefine Experiences at CES

Virtual reality, augmented reality and immersive experiences crossed over the apex of the hype curve and are now tracking the slope of enlightenment as they develop into niche market applications or pivot into location-based entertainment. Resolution, frame rate, horizontal and vertical field of view in the HMDs (head mounted displays), and head and body tracking technology, have all improved over the last year with further advances expected next month at CES 2018 in Las Vegas. This applies equally to next generation HMDs, projection, and heads-up approaches to immersive experiences. Continue reading VR and AR Expected to Further Redefine Experiences at CES

Google Unveils Poly API for Adding Free 3D Objects to AR/VR

Google just introduced Poly API, a spin-off of its recently introduced Poly, which is a large collection of royalty-free 3D objects and scenes that developers can integrate into their VR or AR apps and games. Poly API is aimed to allow developers to discover and work with assets in virtual reality. By providing such easy-to-use, high quality assets (which can be modified), Google hopes to help developers speed-up completion of AR and VR apps, thus providing more content for its Daydream platform. Continue reading Google Unveils Poly API for Adding Free 3D Objects to AR/VR

Paramount Pictures to Launch Virtual Reality ‘Movie Theater’

Paramount Pictures, in partnership with Bigscreen and in collaboration with Oculus, Samsung, HTC and Microsoft, is launching its first VR movie theater. On December 3, anyone with any brand of VR headset can sign onto Bigscreen’s website and watch “Top Gun 3D” for free. The viewer walks into a virtual movie theater with theater seating, and watches trailers prior to the main film. Viewers are seated in a virtual audience and can chat before the movie, which is shown in 30-minute increments over the following 24 hours. Continue reading Paramount Pictures to Launch Virtual Reality ‘Movie Theater’

Pixar Makes Its First Foray into Virtual Reality With ‘Coco VR’

On November 22, Disney-Pixar will release the animated feature “Coco,” which takes place during Dia de los Muertos, a Mexican holiday honoring the dead. Pixar has also debuted its first VR experience, “Coco VR,” created in partnership with Oculus. “Coco VR” is available on Rift headsets, with a Gear VR version out next week. Pixar dubs the experience a “social adventure” where participants embody skeletal characters and explore the Land of the Dead and the holiday, to learn about the film, the festival and the traditions. Continue reading Pixar Makes Its First Foray into Virtual Reality With ‘Coco VR’

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