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:
WILL JIMMY FALLON’S NEW VIRTUAL REALITY SEGMENT HELP RAISE AWARENESS OF VR?
According to a market snapshot by Parks Associates, 60% of U.S. broadband households claim to know little or nothing about virtual reality…but perhaps a new virtual reality segment on The Tonight Show with Tilt Brush Pictionary will help increase awareness. The show has a great audience: almost 3.5M TV viewers, 12.6M YouTube subscribers, 11.5M Facebook fans. Fallon himself has been called the King of Social Media in the entertainment industry, and his influencer status has been a calling card of his career. He also makes content that is perfectly suited to a digital audience: short-form, high-energy snippets that are well-distributed across all social channels. No doubt we’ll see some classic “celebrities in a headset” moments that will show up in even your grandma’s Facebook feed. If anyone can do it, it’s Jimmy Fallon.
FACEBOOK LAUNCHES LIVE 360 VIDEOS WITH NAT GEO
Partnering with National Geographic to show off the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah in full 360 degree glory, Facebook took its first steps into live spherical video. Live 360 video will become available to the API later this month, and Facebook will roll out the immersive live stream functionality to all Pages and users. Although only the replays will be available to watch in a VR headset for now, Facebook will no doubt solve that challenge eventually – as well as 4K spatialized audio and 4K resolution.
PARTY WITH YOUR FACEBOOK FRIENDS IN VR: OCULUS ROOMS & PARTIES
If you have a Samsung Gear VR, you can now connect with your Facebook friends through Oculus Home. First promised at the Oculus Connect 3 conference, you can now start a voice call (called a Party) with up to 3 friends—and then connect with those friends in a virtual playspaces (called a Room). In a Room, you and your friends can watch videos together on a giant 2D TV screen, play guessing or matching games, or launch a multiplayer game. In the official words of the Oculus blog, this is “just the beginning of social VR.”
MONETIZING VR: PREMIUM CONTENT AND TV APPS
Content creators are challenged to build monetization models in the growing virtual reality industry. Two content studios (who have their own native apps), have announced novel approaches to this market-wide challenge. On their Transport app, Los Angeles-based Wevr is launching a subscription-based model – offering a premium content tier in addition to their free content. The New York-based company Littlstar (which is backed by Disney) has released a VR-viewing app made for smart TVs, launching first for Sony’s Brava Android televisions. Available through the Google Play Store, the app allows users to navigate around the 360 degree content with their remote control. Although an inelegant stand-in for a headset, no doubt Littlstar’s VR content partners (Showtime, the Discovery Channel, Nat Geo, and ABC Television Group) will find a big audience via smart TVs – which are in 50M homes in the U.S.
INVESTMENT & FUNDING WRAPUP
Boom – $3.5M in seed funding to make e-sports replays more immersive. Using the 3D data from video games, live streamers can verbally command Boom to show a glorious multi-angle replay of their last move. Although currently only available on Twitch and YouTube Gaming, Boom is laying the foundation for the next features: a 3D virtual reality streaming platform available on headsets in real time.
Loom.ai – $1.35M in seed funding for its platform that creates 3D avatars from 2D images, which can then be plugged into a variety of animation tools and VR applications. Loom.ai’s investment comes from Danhua Capital, Y Combinator, Presence Capital, Anorak Ventures, and others. The founding director of Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab, Jeremy Bailenson, is an advisor to Loom.ai as well as co-founder of STRIVR…
STRIVR – $5M in a Series A Round, to widen the focus of its VR training platform. Co-founded at Stanford by Jeremy Bailenson and Stanford kicker Derek Belch, STRIVR has concentrated on improving athletic performance – and has 25 pro and college sports teams as clients. Now the company is broadening its scope to “experiential learning,” for enterprise training for areas like operations, sales, customer service, HR, and safety. Investment was led by Signia Venture Partners with participation from BMW i Ventures and AdvancIt Capital.
Survios – $50M in two rounds in 2016. Los Angeles-based Survios’s Raw Data game was the first VR game to top the global Steam Charts and made a $1M in one month, and the company wants to be the leading publisher and content creator in virtual reality. The lead investor was Lux Capital with participation from Shasta Ventures, Danhua Capital, Shanda Holdings, Felicis Ventures, Dentsu Ventures, and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (which has a lot of intellectual property – will we be able to become James Bond or Rocky in future VR games from Survios)?
CYCLISTS & TRIATHLETES SPORT AUGMENTED REALITY GLASSES
FOX’S INNOVATION LAB TEAMS UP WITH FELIX & PAUL
ADD-ON DEVICE AIMS TO MAKE HTC VIVE WIRELESS
OCULUS CEO STEPS DOWN, WILL LEAD PC DIVISION
PATENT SUGGESTS NINTENDO’S NEXT DEVICE MIGHT USE VR HEADSET
PREDICTIONS FOR THE NEXT 2 YEARS OF VR
STUBHUB LETS YOU VIEW YOUR SEATS IN VR BEFORE BUYING
LIVE STREAMING 4K 360 CAMERA ORAH NOW AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER
SMART SUIT CAPTURES YOUR MOVEMENTS FOR USE IN VIRTUAL WORLDS
PIXVANA RELEASES VR EDITING SOFTWARE ONE YEAR AFTER RAISING $6M SEED
WORD PRESS BLOGS NOW HOST 360 VIDEO CONTENT
THE UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE’S AUGMENTED REALITY APP