NextVR has completed yesterday what they’re calling “the first ever live, broadcast quality transmission of a virtual reality experience,” a live-streaming, 180 degree video designed especially for VR headsets. The transmission virtually transported Engadget’s Senior HD Editor, Richard Lawler, from his icy Ann Arbor, Michigan abode to the sunny beaches of Laguna, California.
NextVR is best known for their recent collaboration with Coldplay in their Ghost Stories Virtual Reality Concert Experience, a 360 degree video (also called ‘panoramic video’) featuring a performance of the single A Sky Full of Stars. The experience is short, but offers a peak at the what the company’s end goal to eventually serve up real-time 3D panoramic video of live events: concerts, major-league sports, fashion shows, educational programming, almost anything with limited seating it seems.
In yesterday’s beach-side transmission, Engadget’s Richard Lawler was virtually plopped into the 75 degree sands of Laguna Beach, California, using a Samsung Gear VR to receive the virtual video. Lawler reports that “there was still the occasional hitch in the frame, but that wasn’t enough to send me back to the reality of Michigan’s near-freezing temperatures.”
In their first public demonstration of the technology, NextVR opted to use a camera setup that offered a visual field of 180 degrees, sending 6K resolution at 80 frames per second. The footage was captured with a stereoscopic camera system that was also said to record “the 3D geometry of a location… the shape, size and distance of all the objects in the captured scene as well as the size of the environment.” This 3D effect however is only possible on headsets without positional tracking, i.e. only supporting the type of tracking available on DK1 and Samsung Gear VR at the moment.
The platform is currently focusing on delivering low bit-rate video (down to 4 mbps) so that viewers can even stream over cell networks to their mobile VR devices, including Samsung Gear VR as well as tethered VR headsets—a smart move by NextVR to get as many people to their service as possible.
Dave Cole, Co-founder, of NextVR says their technology “opens up a whole world of possibilities for virtual reality. Imagine if you could have stood on the moon with Neil Armstrong as he took his first step. With this advancement, you WILL be virtually teleported to Mars as mankind takes our first step there.”
Although the term ‘broadcast quality’ used by the company is pretty ambiguous—even less precise than when talking about ‘HD’ when applied to 2D video—NextVR is most likely erring on the side of caution by not throwing too many foreign terms at the uninitiated, which is more than forgivable considering the difficult inroads associated with selling people a new way to consume media.