January 27, 2020
In March, Japanese wireless company NTT Docomo will debut an 8K VR streaming service that relies on next generation 5G technology for its bandwidth and low latency capabilities. The 8KVR Live service will become part of Docomo’s Shinkansen Live Connect; the name refers to the country’s bullet trains. The new service will enable pay-per-view access to live venues such as concerts. Users with VR headsets and 5G smartphones will be able to watch the live event from a viewing angle of their choosing.
VentureBeat reports that, “Docomo has been at the forefront of developing 8K VR streaming technology using 5G,” pointing to the company’s 2018 version of the technology.
In 2019, Docomo revealed it would pair the nascent system with “360-degree spherical cameras and microphones with 5G base stations to record ultra high-resolution stereoscopic videos for broadcast.” Most importantly, Docomo “developed a way to distribute 8K VR videos simultaneously to large numbers of viewers, differentially distributing high-detail focus content and low-detail peripheral content based on each viewer’s current viewing angle.”
Docomo has further stated that, “multiple camera angles from events will be available … so users will be able to switch between vantage points at will … [and that] the service will also enable direct ordering of artist-specific merchandise during performances and include AR avatars of artists that will pop up when a smartphone camera sees their real-world merchandise.”
In mid-February, users will “be able to download an app to view 8KVR Live videos … though the carrier will apparently commence paid live broadcasts on or after March 18.”
The company has also revealed that it will “charge separate fees for viewing the 8KVR Live content and has priced VR performances by Japanese bands Snow Man and SixTones at ¥3,630 ($31) each.” Sony, Samsung and Huawei are readying 8K TVs, some of them integrated with 5G, and other “Japanese carriers have been readying 5G services for wide-scale use at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.”
These carriers are “expected to use similar 8K and VR technologies separately and together to broadcast live from stadiums, starting in July.”