SpaceVR, the Ryan Holmes-founded San Francisco startup that wants to build a 360-degree video platform for space footage, has re-launched its Kickstarter geared towards putting its VR camera Overview One on the Cupola module of the International Space Station (ISS).
If SpaceVR’s Kickstarter reaches its $100,000 goal, it aims to partner with Nanoracks to get a 1U (a 10x10x10cm CubeSat), 4-camera rig that will capture spherical footage at 16k resolution into the ISS’s cupola. In order to get footage from the ISS to us, SD cards storing the footage will be “physically downmassed,” or literally taken from the ISS to Earth, twice a year. However, if SpaceVR’s Kickstarter reaches its stretch goal of $200,000, the company will be able to add downlink capabilities to its system, as the extra 1U of space added would allow an additional computer to compress and send footage to Earth. This would enable SpaceVR to update its contest roster more frequently and, more to the point, would provide users with more potentially amazing 360-degree space footage. $300,000 would add another 1U of space plus four more cameras, enabling SpaceVR to deliver 3D video, while $400,000 doubles downlink speeds and includes another set of cameras. Lastly, $500,000 again doubles downlink speeds (to approximately four times what reaching the $200,000 stretch goal allows for).
Overview One, the name of SpaceVR’s camera system it aims to send to the ISS, comes from the Overview Effect, which describes the phenomena in which astronauts looking out at Earth from space suddenly come to perceive the planet as small and fragile amidst the surrounding vacuum and celestial bodies.
Supporters of SpaceVR’s Kickstarter stand to receive some pretty cool rewards. Highlights include “UNLIMITED SPACEVR CONTENT, FOREVER!” for $50 pledges, a “SPACE GOLD SAMSUNG GEARVR” designed to look like an astronaut’s helmet in space for $750 and the opportunity to take a “PARABOLIC FLIGHT!” while watching the Earth VR experience on a GearVR for five people with $10,000 to contribute. SpaceVR has even amended their rewards section in order to introduce Add Ons, which are specific items one can receive for donating specific amounts of money (it’s a lot like adding an item to your shopping cart and increasing your cart’s total commensurately). Add-Ons vary from t-shirts, to patches, to a special cardboard headset and beyond. Needless to say, there are quite a few perks at price points below $10,000 or even $50, so head to the Kickstarter page if you’re interested in checking those out.
The page also includes ideas for potential content series: Cupola Series (e.g., Auroras, Meteor Shower), ISS Series (e.g., Experiments, ISS Tour) and Launch Series (e.g., Blue Origin, SpaceX CRS-8). Meanwhile, answers to frequently asked questions, such as “Why was SpaceVR founded?,” can be found under the FAQ heading; these are worth looking at if you want a brief clarification on the difference between 2D and 3D VR or more specifics on the planned Earth VR experience, which will be SpaceVR’s first ISS-based content item. Speaking of which, a sample of test content can be found here.
The platform itself will be available as an iOS, Android and web app, and will also be accessible by using existing 3rd party VR platforms. SpaceVR furthermore aims to be hardware agnostic: apps will work with phones and mobile-based viewers, while headsets like FOVE and Oculus will also provide users access to SpaceVR content.
SpaceVR previously launched, and subsequently cancelled, a Kickstarter for $500,000; according to the FAQ on SpaceVR’s new Kickstarter, the decision to lower the goal from $500k to $100k came about after the team “reassessed what elements” it “absolutely needed to deliver users content.” Hence the “reduction from 3D to 2D, 6U to 1U payload source, and 12 to 4 camera CCD sensors” and the consequent system simplification and cost decrease.
SpaceVR’s team possesses a wealth of experience in providing creative solutions to space-related tech problems, having “helped launch WiFi” to the ISS, “designed a mission to capture the first image ever from inside Jupiter,” “developed new life support technology for manned space missions using liquid nitrogen” and generally been party to a host of cutting edge and incredibly interesting sounding projects that readers will find listed in full under the “The Team” banner on SpaceVR’s new Kickstarter page. Besides the core team, SpaceVR is receiving advice from and working alongside everyone from moonwalking astronauts (that is, Edgar Mitchell) to a veritable cornucopia of institute and business founders (e.g., Joanna Wei, David Beaver), CEOs (e.g., Rex Ridenoure) and companies (e.g., Nanoracks).
This author firmly believes that SpaceVR’s Kickstarter is worth giving to. If you’ve ever wanted to have an immersive, lifelike look at Earth and space from the ISS, this is your opportunity to help make it happen. This is your opportunity to help a skilled team of engineers provide users views that, until now, have only really been available to the privileged (not to mention incredibly talented and brave) few.
That’s what this author thinks. What do you think? Let us know your thoughts below.