Pixvana, a cloud-based VR video company, today announced their much awaited solution for publishing and streaming 360 video, a platform that promises to deliver up to 10K resolution streaming playback from the cloud to your VR devices. They’re calling it Pixvana SPIN.

In a mission to make 360 video less terrible, the Seattle-based company has developed a number of technologies since they came out of stealth last December. Their linchpin technology: a field-of-view adaptive streaming (FOVAS) technology that promises to both increase video quality and reduce bandwidth for 360 video, something that has stymied the medium and frustrated its viewers long before Facebook and YouTube started supporting the format. Even 4K video spread across a 360-degree sphere leaves much to imagination.

With Pixvana SPIN, the company claims they can deliver up to 100 megapixel quality within the user’s field-of-view while cutting data delivered by up to 70% overall. Company co-founder and CEO Forest Key says “FOVAS is like swapping your old standard definition set for a 4K TV.”

spin-resolution-comparison
image courtesy of Pixvana Inc.

Following this technique, which segments the video into multiple tiled views, the company is simultaneously pushing an Open Projection Format (OPF) that will index user-created video streams into the correct, multi-tiled format optimized via their SPIN publisher. The visualization below shows a 10K 360 SPIN video encoded with 30 individual tiles. When the viewer moves their head to a new part of the video, the stream is “seamlessly switched so that the highest possible quality image is presented, at a greatly reduced bandwidth.”

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Pixvana maintains that a preview version of their SPIN Player will be available soon, with the publisher close to follow in early 2017. As ‘platform agnostic’ player, we’re sure to see apps available for headsets such as Samsung Gear VR, HTC Vive, Google Daydream, and Oculus Rift.

The SteamVR compatible app is slated to release on October 8th.

pixvana-spinplayer-logo

“Pixvana has shown the best-looking VR video we’ve seen to date,” said Valve’s Sean Jenkin. “An open standard for 360/FOVAS content which scales to high-quality VR headsets and lets creators of all sizes publish anywhere without requiring proprietary tools or formats is great for consumers and content creators and reflects Valve’s commitment to an open VR ecosystem. We look forward to making Pixvana’s technology and compatible content available on Steam.”

Pixvana came out of stealth with their announcement of a $6 million seed round back in December led by Madrona Venture group with participation from Vulcan Capital and other angel investors. Company founders come from senior product and engineering leadership roles at Apple, Adobe, Microsoft and Lucasfilm.

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  • I wonder if it uses some kind of foveated streaming. So it streams full resolution video where you are looking e.g. no point downloading video outside the field of view or behind you (except for the audio). Much like modern rendering engines that cull. Although trying to manage that in real-time with the external server must be a challenge.

    • Charles

      Interesting idea. A better idea would be to stream only the section of video you’re facing, with a certain amount extra. That way it won’t need to update nearly as quickly as if it were foveated.

      • Forest Key

        Hi Charles & D3Pixel — yes, the technique uses both foveation and tiling, as you both ask/suggest. you can read more about the methods and see some technical breakdowns on our website, http://www.pixvana.com/spin

        Technical preview will be live on various headsets very soon so you can try it out, we’d love your feedback.

        • Charles

          Very interesting. Thanks for the info.

        • Will keep an eye on this too. Thanks. I know you are targeting events, enterprise etc. But have you considered writing a browser extension for sites like YouTube / Vimeo so that if the browser detects something in a standard stream (e.g. your meta marker or something) then the public can opt to load the enhanced experience in your own player? Youtube as a portal is huge for content creators and getting exposure.

      • OgreTactics

        This is what it does

  • craylon

    sorry for the n00b question: This is mono, right ?
    Would it be possible to do stereo VR of that kind of quality with the system ?

    • OgreTactics

      Logically. Baffles me that they didn’t advertise it as such, nobody gives or should give a shit about flat 360°.

  • OgreTactics

    Amazing, I’ve been waiting for such a solution for a long time, but I’m waiting for a stereo 360 10K+ solution.

  • I;ve also heard about VR system that allows to synchronize many devices in the same time. I wonder if it could be used for movie shows. What do you think?