VR Companies Learn the Ropes in Broadcasting Live Sports

Sports coverage in virtual reality is gaining momentum. Jaunt VR, NextVR and IM360 have all shown virtual reality applications for professional baseball, basketball, football, soccer and Daytona 500 auto racing. But sports coverage in VR creates new and unique challenges for producers. For example, VR cameras can’t zoom — a common practice in typical sports coverage — meaning the camera has to be as close to the players as possible, easy for boxing but a tougher proposition for, say, football. Continue reading VR Companies Learn the Ropes in Broadcasting Live Sports

Post Cereal Gets Immersive with New Fruity Pebbles VR Spot

Cereal company Post created its first virtual reality content: a 30-second pre-roll spot for Fruity Pebbles’ “Yabba Dabba Doo” campaign that will run on multiplatform apps VirtualSky and StartApp. Rather than place the viewer in an environment to explore, the Pebbles spot is a carefully guided, organized experience. It’s still quite immersive, with 360 visuals that spray the viewer with water guns among other activities that include dodgeball, painting a mural and jamming with a garage band. Continue reading Post Cereal Gets Immersive with New Fruity Pebbles VR Spot

Virtual Reality Venture Capital Alliance to Support VR Startups

HTC helped put together the Virtual Reality Venture Capital Alliance, a coalition of 28 venture capital firms committed to investing $10 billion in virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality startups. Among the companies joining the consortium are Sequoia Capital, well known for investing in tech giants Apple and Intel; Matrix Partners; and 500 Startups. Prior to this, HTC — which created the Vive VR headset — had pledged more than $100 million to the nascent VR industry. HTC has since spun off Vive into its own separate company. Continue reading Virtual Reality Venture Capital Alliance to Support VR Startups

NBC, Samsung, OBS Team Up to Offer VR Olympics Coverage

NBC plans to release about 85 hours of virtual reality content of the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games, marking the first time that the Olympics will be available as a VR experience. Participating cable/satellite operators will make the content available exclusively to their pay-TV subscribers on Samsung devices. Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS) will do the actual production of the VR content, which will then be supplied to NBC Olympics. Among the content to be made available are the opening and closing ceremonies. Continue reading NBC, Samsung, OBS Team Up to Offer VR Olympics Coverage

Google Debuts Features to Enable Browsing the Internet in VR

Google has been a significant player in defining and deploying what’s called WebVR, which enables VR websites to provide content directly to virtual reality headsets via standard capabilities. But Google has a much broader vision: it would like users to be able to access all websites in VR including those not created with virtual reality in mind. Currently, a user would have to take the VR headset off and on as she jumped from site to site. Google thinks it’s a better idea to let the user remain in an entirely VR environment. Continue reading Google Debuts Features to Enable Browsing the Internet in VR

The VOID Debuts its First Mixed Reality Attraction in New York

The VOID has opened its “Ghostbusters”-themed experience inside Madame Tussauds wax museum in Times Square. “For $50, visitors can strap on a VR headset and a backpack computer fashioned into a ‘Ghostbusters’ proton pack, pick up a matching gun-shaped plastic prop, and act out a cinematic fantasy in real life,” explains The Verge, which describes “Ghostbusters: Dimension” as “stunningly intricate.” The experience utilizes tracking markers to create full-body avatars of guests and haptic feedback to add unique physical sensations. As Road to VR notes, its success “has something to do with its ‘4D’ components (e.g., the Slimer-cued mist, mock-rickety platforms, the vibrating vest)” and “the user engagement prompted by walking around in and interfacing with a semi-real virtual space.” Continue reading The VOID Debuts its First Mixed Reality Attraction in New York

Cannes Lions Advertising Fest Highlights Branded VR Content

At the Cannes Lions advertising festival, Google issued its first ranking of 360-degree video ads on YouTube, which have already garnered 20 million views. BMW’s VR racing experiences earned a No. 1 spot on the list, which also included McDonald’s, Oreo and Hyundai. Google has distributed 5 million Cardboard viewers for watching VR with a smartphone. The company acknowledges these are early days for virtual reality, but also believes that more access to smartphones will hasten more adoption. Continue reading Cannes Lions Advertising Fest Highlights Branded VR Content

Samsung Rolls Out Gear 360 Camera at VidCon to Select Few

Samsung’s Gear 360 virtual-reality camera will roll out at digital video confab VidCon — but only to top YouTube and other digital video content creators. After that event, Samsung will also make the $350 VR camera available for purchase for chosen creators at “select events and activations,” with a rollout to consumers planned for later in the year. With its strategy of releasing the camera to an exclusive few, Samsung hopes to jumpstart the creation of VR content and increase buzz for the upcoming consumer release. Continue reading Samsung Rolls Out Gear 360 Camera at VidCon to Select Few

Virtual Reality Naysayers Dub VR ‘Prison’ and ‘Health Hazard’

Virtual reality may be the hottest technology trend now, with new headsets, cameras and content in high gear. But not everyone is enthused. Two naysayers have had big audiences for their caveats recently. The New York Times technology writer Farhad Manjoo has dubbed virtual reality “a prison of fantastical sights and sounds.” On Quora, a community-sourced Q&A site, military flight simulator expert Steve Baker wrote VR headsets are a major health hazard that can disorient the human brain and damage the eyes. Continue reading Virtual Reality Naysayers Dub VR ‘Prison’ and ‘Health Hazard’

Study Finds People Prefer VR Travel, Adventure to VR Games

Market research firm Greenlight VR reveals that consumers’ main interest in virtual reality is not games, but rather travel, entertainment, events, home design and education. The company’s recent 2016 Virtual Reality Consumer Report also notes that the top VR device consumers now want is the Samsung Gear VR, followed by the PlayStation VR, and that they are less enthused about paying a premium for VR than they were in October. The report surveyed more than 1,200 people aged 18 to 60, including both users and non-users of VR. Continue reading Study Finds People Prefer VR Travel, Adventure to VR Games

CryWorks: Disney, Pixar, ILM Vets Launch New VR Company

VFX and CGI veterans Euan Macdonald, Hans Uhlig and Kymber Lim have secured funding led by Michael Bay’s 451 Media Group, 500 Mobile Collective, and WI Harper Group to launch an immersive entertainment company called CryWorks, with plans to produce virtual and augmented reality experiences. “Although there are a few high-quality VR content pieces to date, most of them have little incentive for the viewer to keep tuning back in,” said Macdonald. “We see an opportunity to build the first VR broadcast network, partnering with other production companies and creating addictive, episodic experiences.” Continue reading CryWorks: Disney, Pixar, ILM Vets Launch New VR Company

Patents, Investments Point to Significant Future for VR and AR

Sony dominates U.S. patent filings related to virtual reality, followed by IBM, Samsung, Microsoft and Canon. Magic Leap and Reveo are the leading startups when it comes to published patents related to VR. Microsoft, Sony and Qualcomm have the most published patents related to augmented reality, although they do not necessarily lead in the number of AR inventions. Osterout Group and Magic Leap are the clear leaders in published AR patents. All the companies on these lists have far fewer inventions than patents because multiple patents may be included in a single invention. Continue reading Patents, Investments Point to Significant Future for VR and AR

Advertisers Explore Virtual Reality, Luxury Brands Embrace It

Sales of virtual reality headsets and software are predicted to reach $1 billion this year, and advertisers are paying attention. At this week’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, an annual confab for advertisers and agencies, the focus will be on VR. Google executives will talk about the virtual reality platform based on the Android mobile operating system that the company plans to introduce this year, and ad agencies will describe how they’re using VR to promote brands and products. Continue reading Advertisers Explore Virtual Reality, Luxury Brands Embrace It

Magic Leap and ILMxLAB Plan to Make ‘Star Wars’ Immersive

Magic Leap and Lucasfilm’s ILMxLAB have partnered to develop “Star Wars”-related content for the former’s technology. Because Magic Leap has kept its mixed reality developments under wraps, neither company would reveal details about specific experiences that would result from the partnership. But Magic Leap founder Rony Abovitz, at the WIRED Business Conference in New York City last week, did show a teaser that showed two iconic “Star Wars” characters, computer-generated but very real looking, interacting with participants. Continue reading Magic Leap and ILMxLAB Plan to Make ‘Star Wars’ Immersive

Vrse Changes its Name to Within and Raises More VC Money

VR company Vrse has changed its name to Within and received $12.56 million in funding, led by venture firm Andreessen Horowitz. Other Within investors include 21st Century Fox and Annapurna Pictures. This is just the latest example of the huge sums that VR and AR companies have been able to garner. Magic Leap raised $793.5 million earlier this year, and Disney spearheaded a $65 million round for VR firm Jaunt. Comcast also led a $6.8 million Series A funding round in VR studio Felix & Paul. Continue reading Vrse Changes its Name to Within and Raises More VC Money

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