Recapping the top stories covered on the VRScout Report, a weekly live video show and podcast discussing the best in VR, hosted by Malia Probst. You can enjoy the full audio recording below:
In this weekly VRScout Report, we cover NFL’s new VR series, Intel buying Voke, indigenous languages living on with VR, Unity’s big developer updates, Microsoft’s line of VR headsets, Apple using VR to develop self-driving car, money & funding, and more. Special guest VRScout’s Ryan A. Bell.
FACEBOOK KEEPS PUSHING THE VIRTUAL ENVELOPE
Starting with its $2B acquisition of Oculus in the spring of 2014, Facebook has continued to build out its virtual reality strategy in a big way. 360 videos were implemented into your Newsfeed over a year ago, and 360 photo functionality was instituted over the summer. Now Instant Articles get some virtual love and supports mobile-optimized 360 photos and videos from publishers, with USA Today Networks and BILD as the initial launch partners. You will also be able to stream your virtual experiences in the Samsung Gear VR to Facebook Live before the end of this year, so stay tuned for more information on that angle. Also… is Facebook making a phone?
GET INSIDE THE GRIDIRON: THE NFL LAUNCHES NEW VR SERIES
The NFL has always been at the forefront of innovative broadcasting, and now they’re shooting a 9-episode 360 degree video series. Each of the episodes will be 5-10 minutes long, with the first episode focusing on the Philadelphia Eagles and launching on the NFL’s YouTube channel on Thanksgiving Day. This is a big partnership between the NFL and Google, and the remaining 8 episodes will be available on the Google Daydream content platform – launching later this month.
INTEL BUYS VOKE, AND VR LIVE STREAMING GETS (EVEN MORE) INTERESTING
Although they’re keeping tight-lipped about the cost (as well as their bigger plans), Intel recently acquired a Santa Clara, CA-based company called Voke which live streams in virtual reality. Voke’s tech can stereoscopically record live action (recently used at NY Fashion week), that can be viewed on a range of devices – from phones to virtual reality headsets. Intel also recently acquired a potentially related company in the spring: Replay Technology, whose FreeD product is popular in traditional sports broadcasts and enables a deeper way to show video replays. While NextVR has been the biggest player in the VR live streaming space (with a 5-year deal with FOX Sports, and a total of $115M in funding), there is definitely room for more… and Portugal’s live event ticketing company SeatWish is launching the Next360 (yes, it does sound like “NextVR”) platform, which adds VR tickets to traditional in-person tickets to their offerings. Keep an eye on this sector: virtually attending live events is shaping up to be a big business.
TEACHING INDIGENOUS LANGUAGE WITH VR
The Cree are the largest group of First Nations in Canada with 135 registered bands and over 200,000 members, and they are using the latest technology to help ensure that their traditional language lives on. The Cree School Board launched its Cree Syllabics Virtual Reality project, an educational interactive VR experience that introduces us to a little girl named Niipiish and her dog Achimush. The narrative has us prepare for her little brother’s walking-out ceremony while using Cree words and symbols for the environment and traditions. Speaking of education and VR… the U.S. Department of Education just announced a $680K prize for new VR/AR experiences.
MONEY & FUNDING
ObEN closed a $7.7M Series A funding round for proprietary, AI-powered virtual avatars that capture your likeness with your smartphone. ObEN is one of 33 companies in the HTC VICE X accelerator program – keep an eye out for their product launch in 2017. Swedish company Starbreeze acquired Nozon, a Belgian special effects studio, for almost $8M. Starbreeze is a huge game development company that is also building out location-based VR entertainment centers. The spatial sound and motion-tracking technology company Dysonics has raised their Series A round, declining to disclose the exact amount but saying it was led by Intel Capital. Focusing on empowering VR/AR entrepreneurs, the NY-based Glimpse Group has raised $700K in seed funding to help support startups’ business operations and provide a network of professional relationships.