Competitors are lining up to introduce the world to the very first 360 degree video-sharing service, a concept that could soon become an industry standard for both the newly emerging mobile VR scene and PC-driven VR headsets alike. VCEMO (pronounced vee-see-mo) is an early entrant in the race to create the ‘YouTube of VR’, and has recently launched a Kickstarter campaign in hopes of capturing the niche before it goes mainstream.
Why all the hub-bub about 360 degree video? Well, at the moment it can do something current 3D games can’t, and that’s provide a realistic VR experience on low-end hardware. 360 degree video capture is also as easy as placing the right camera, meaning you don’t need to be a developer to capture something to be experienced in VR. The early tastemakers are betting that every dodo with a DODOcase Cardboard Kit will soon be watching 360 degree video, which is where VCEMO comes in.
The company was founded by a group of college students who met at Vassar College in New York, and although they have haven’t graduated yet, the group of young men may have inspired confidence in a very particular backer—none other than Palmer Luckey, founder of Oculus. Then again, Luckey has also backed ‘Virtual Reality Internet‘ and ‘Cmoar‘, two projects he probably didn’t have much confidence in….
VCEMO wants to offer a YouTube-style 360 video streaming service that also promises an easy drag-and-drop upload interface, automatic stereoscopic rendering, and support for all types of footage taken from a variety of cameras like the Giroptic and bublcam, as well as DIY camera mounts. VCEMO’s Kickstarter video even notes that the company expects their platform to work with not only 360 degree footage, but also 3D 360 degree content, like that filmed with Jaunt’s camera.
This focus on ease of entry further reinforces VCEMO’s ‘bring what you got’ additude, with in-app navigation handled by a variety of input devices including mouse, head tracking, and Leap Motion.
Providing it reaches its funding goal of $34,500 by December 17th, VCEMO should go into beta sometime in January of 2015, first catering to Oculus Rift owners, then rolling out to VR-capable Android and iOS devices later down the line.
Competition Brings Out the Best
VCEMO is far from the only company vying for the position of nascent market leader. Littlstar, based in New York City, has already cobbled together a list of partners—Belvedere Vodka, DKNY, and Uber, to name a few—for a Panoramic Video Network. The service is already in beta, but looks to be a ‘mouse only’ experience for now, with no word yet of when they intend on expanding to VR devices.
Vyuu, a company based in Belgium, is also planning on multi-platform support like VCEMO; much like Littlstar, it has attracted the lusty gaze of commercial brands and events including Red Bull, Boiler Room and the record label Cooking Vinyl. Some professional content creators have joined Vyuu—most likely an effort by the company to attract and retain site visitors.
We’ve got our eye on Vyuu’s closed alpha, which is set to kick off any day now, and we’ll be sure to keep you posted on any further developments.
If the Shoe Fits…
Who better to become the ‘YouTube of VR’ than, well, YouTube? It has the brand recognition and the technical know-how, so why aren’t we watching stuff like 360 degree Skyrim on YouTube already?
Despite the fact you can find the popular video-sharing app on nearly every internet-capable device, from the smartphone to the refrigerator, larger companies like YouTube still tend to be more averse to risk when it comes to immediately supporting new technology; we can’t really expect them to roll out a 360 degree video service tomorrow. The nearly decade-old company has however recently added support for 60 FPS video, and also holds a prominent spot in Google’s Cardboard app, where users can browse videos in an immersive environment, but can’t yet watch 360 degree footage.
There’s no telling when YouTube will decide to enter the 360 degree video race, but considering today’s winner-take-all economy, the motto “when in doubt, buy it out” seems to be the modus operandi. In the meantime, we’ll be keeping a close watch on Google’s gazes.