Startup Within to Release Augmented Reality App for Children

Los Angeles-based immersive media startup Within plans to release Wonderscope, an augmented reality app for children, later this month. With Wonderscope, mobile AR superimposes characters, scenes and stories onto an iPad camera view of a real-world environment. Within chief executive Chris Milk noted that, with Wonderscope and a smartphone, anyone can have “this new magical ability.” “It’s like a lens for invisible magical things that you couldn’t see with your naked eye,” he added. Continue reading Startup Within to Release Augmented Reality App for Children

Sony Pictures, Nokia Partner to Create, Distribute VR Content

Sony Pictures and Nokia have partnered to produce and distribute VR content. In addition to using Nokia’s OZO VR camera to produce videos, Sony will use the OZO’s Live VR broadcast feature to live stream 360-degree video of Sony Pictures events for fans. Sony will also add Nokia’s SDK to its Privilege Plus app, which is only available on Sony mobile phones. Nokia debuted the OZO a little over a year ago for about $60,000; the cost goes up with additional gear required to produce VR films. Continue reading Sony Pictures, Nokia Partner to Create, Distribute VR Content

Disney Accelerator Supports Nine Startups for Mutual Benefit

Disney founded its own accelerator a few years ago, providing financial and logistical support to a range of startups from Hanson Robotics, which makes lifelike robots, to Jaunt and its VR cameras. Disney chooses the startups it supports wisely, selecting companies that are creating things that could potentially align with Disney’s media and business pursuits. Take virtual reality for example; Disney isn’t likely to build its own camera, but it can certainly benefit from supporting a company with the expertise to do so. Continue reading Disney Accelerator Supports Nine Startups for Mutual Benefit

Halsey Minor Seeks to Disrupt VR Production with Live Planet

Numerous companies are introducing virtual reality cameras, filling a void that existed a year ago when VR productions were limited to the low-resolution Ricoh camera or custom rigs with multiple GoPro cameras. Among those manufacturers now offering 360-degree cameras are Samsung and LG aiming at the consumer marketplace, and Nokia, Jaunt and Lytro positioned towards the professional market. Kickstarter campaigns are also underway for additional cameras. The latest venture comes from CNET founder Halsey Minor, who is building an end-to-end immersive video system. Continue reading Halsey Minor Seeks to Disrupt VR Production with Live Planet

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

Facebook Open-Sources 360-Degree Camera to Jumpstart VR

Facebook debuted the Facebook Surround 360 camera for 360-degree video and VR at its F8 conference this week. The company will also freely share its hardware schematics and complex stitching software via GitHub this summer. Others share Facebook’s vision of virtual reality, including Nokia, Jaunt and Google, all of which built their own 360-degree cameras. But Facebook, by open-sourcing its plans, says chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, furthers its central mission of connecting everyone in the world. Continue reading Facebook Open-Sources 360-Degree Camera to Jumpstart VR

ILM and Disney Unveil Compelling VR Experiences for Movies

Industrial Light & Magic’s Experience Lab (ILMxLAB), the Lucasfilm R&D division that prototypes interactive, immersive cinema for VR, augmented reality and theme park attractions, debuted a VR experience of “Jurassic World” at Sundance. Now, it’s rolling out “Trials on Tatooine,” a VR demo using the same CG models created for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” Lucasfilm’s parent company Disney also just released a new 360-degree video, “Cold Lairs,” to tease its upcoming “Jungle Book” remake. Continue reading ILM and Disney Unveil Compelling VR Experiences for Movies

Sky Opens VR Studio to Produce Virtual Reality Video Content

European pay-TV company Sky launched Sky VR Studio to create immersive video content for VR platforms. The first content will involve sports and, later, entertainment and news. Majority-owned by 21st Century Fox, Sky, which was an early investor in VR startup Jaunt, has 21 million subscribers. Sky’s VR content will first be ported to third party platforms such as Facebook 360, Oculus and YouTube 360, for users with Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear VR. Its ultimate goal is to develop its own VR app and host and stream VR content. Continue reading Sky Opens VR Studio to Produce Virtual Reality Video Content

DirecTV Launches First VR App to Promote Big Knockout Boxing

DirecTV just released its first virtual reality app, BKB VR, which stands for Big Knockout Boxing. Not for use with live games, BKB VR will display the event held on June 27 at Las Vegas’s Mandalay Bay, which was recorded in 360-degree video. Available for Google Cardboard and Samsung Gear VR headsets, BKB VR can be downloaded on Google Play for Android phones and the App Store for iPhones. The fight footage is also available via Samsung’s Milk VR service and the Oculus Store. Continue reading DirecTV Launches First VR App to Promote Big Knockout Boxing

Vrse Envisions a Cinematic Future for Virtual Reality Content

Vrse, a virtual reality content company headquartered in Los Angeles, recently brought on former Rdio chief executive Drew Larner as its chief operating officer. The company has also drawn investment from Andreessen Horowitz, Live Nation, Vice Media and Annapurna Pictures. It’s all about creating content that goes beyond gaming, notes chief executive Chris Milk. To that end, the company plans to produce its own content, through Vrse Works, and distribute its own and others’ through the Vrse app for VR headsets. Continue reading Vrse Envisions a Cinematic Future for Virtual Reality Content

Oculus Conference Puts Spotlight on Virtual Reality Content

At the Oculus Connect 2 developers conference, the company, now a unit of Facebook, focused on its efforts to increase the amount of content available for VR headsets, several of which are slated for launch in early 2016. That’s because a dearth of content is seen as a stumbling block to consumer adoption of VR when it becomes widely available. The conference unveiled newly inked deals for streaming movies and TV shows from Netflix, the popular “Minecraft” game and movies including “The Hunger Game” series. Continue reading Oculus Conference Puts Spotlight on Virtual Reality Content

Investment from Media Firms Brings Jaunt’s Funding to $100M

As interest in virtual reality heats up across industries, a number of international media players — including Disney, Sky, Axel Springer, ProSiebenSat.1 Media, China Media Capital and Evolution Media Partners (backed by TPG and Creative Artists Agency) — are investing $65 million in Palo Alto-based VR startup Jaunt. The investment follows other high-profile moves in immersive tech: Google joined venture funds in investing $542 million in Magic Leap last year, and Oculus VR raised $75 million before Facebook picked up the company for $2 billion. Continue reading Investment from Media Firms Brings Jaunt’s Funding to $100M

Nokia Introduces 360-Degree VR Camera for Pro Filmmakers

Nokia Technologies launched a 360-degree 3D VR camera targeted at professional content creators, and, in the process, rebranded itself. The company sold its mobile phone business to Microsoft in 2013. The new VR camera, dubbed OZO, which was unveiled in Hollywood and is slated for a Fall 2015 release, features eight lenses, each of which captures 2Kx2K resolution, and eight microphones to capture and create spatial audio. Nokia also plans to enable live broadcasting to VR headsets. Continue reading Nokia Introduces 360-Degree VR Camera for Pro Filmmakers

YouTube’s 360-Degree Video Now Available for TrueView Ads

YouTube just added 360-degree functionality to its TrueView ads, and Budweiser tried out the new feature for its “Whatever USA” campaign. The 360-degree feature enables users to watch a video from any chosen angle by dragging the mouse along directional arrows to change the view. YouTube first debuted the 360-degree videos in March; now advertisers can bring that experience to TrueView ads, with the intent of fully engaging mobile consumers. Over half of YouTube’s views are now accessed from mobile devices. Continue reading YouTube’s 360-Degree Video Now Available for TrueView Ads

Dolby and Jaunt Bring Atmos Surround Sound to Virtual Reality

Virtual reality content creator Jaunt has partnered with longtime movie sound experts at Dolby to improve the audio in immersive experiences. Audio is a crucial part of making VR feel more like reality, and the Dolby Atmos system will allow Jaunt to specifically target sounds so that they seem as if they are coming from a very specific location. The new technology is expected to improve VR storytelling since content creators would be able to use sound to redirect a user’s attention. Continue reading Dolby and Jaunt Bring Atmos Surround Sound to Virtual Reality

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