BigScreen is a social VR app currently in beta for Oculus Rift and HTC Vive that lets you livestream your monitor to friends in an online environment, essentially letting you throw a virtual LAN party or movie night with your best VR buddies. While the new app focuses on connecting people in a virtual space so they can mirror their monitors to friends, it can also be used solo as a virtual desktop solution.
Because BigScreen offers you a way to mirror your monitor to others in a social VR space, you can do everything you would normally do—like browsing the web, streaming your favorite series on Netflix, or playing a game of Rocket League on Steam. And that goes for everyone in the environment too, letting you and 3 other people contemporaneously stream your own desktops and view them just as if your friends were sitting in a room with their own personal computers.
Developer Hayden Lee, co-creator of one of the earliest social VR spaces Convrge, showed me the ropes of BigScreen. After getting my personal monitor the right size and distance away from me, we starting zooming around the virtual apartment while playing a running game of Agario, a 2D online game that gives you control of a little amoeba. Because I’d never played the game, Lee gave me all the tips and tricks while watching me play for my first time. We chatted back and forth about our favorite games, and openly criticized each other’s Agario tactics until we moved on to a webpage that Lee wanted to share with me. We did all of this from the comfort of our own swivel chairs, his in the San Francisco Bay Area and mine in Northern Italy.
One of the most interesting bits about BigScreen is the fact that only one person in the party needs to have access to any given piece of content, like a locally stored video or their own Netflix account—which is unlike any social VR space we’ve seen until now. Programs like AltspaceVR allow you to browse the web and stream content in a shared setting, but with the caveat that everyone in the space has equal access to view it—meaning everyone needs a Netflix account. Not so for BigScreen. You will of course need your own copy of a game if you plan on playing in the same room as someone, and you don’t have the ability to interact with another person’s screen either, but that goes for real life LAN parties too.
For now BigScreen only features a single setting, a posh penthouse apartment which contains several ‘hot spot’ rooms that you can share, like the balcony overlooking a city skyline, or the intimate living room—of course with a giant screen where anyone in the party can cast their screen for easier viewing. At the time of this writing, the app has yet to integrate shared audio, a necessary feature that Lee confirmed will be coming soon along with custom avatars and more environments.
BigScreen is available for free on Steam starting April 28th, and is cross compatible with Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.