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 week’s VRScout Report, we discuss VR used as legal evidence; President Obama stars in 360 video at Yosemite; Sliver TV brings 360 immersive views from traditional 2D games w/ $6.2M in funding; Samsung patents new biometric authentication methods; HTC Vive offers $500K in cash and prizes to developers on Viveport, their new non-gaming content platform, and more…
1. JAILED ANIMAL RIGHTS’ ACTIVIST: FREED BY VR?
It was just a matter of time until virtual reality and the law collided – but this story is unexpected: VR is being used as evidence in a trial in Canada. Back in the summer of 2015, an animal rights’ activist from Toronto clashed with a driver of a trailer that was transporting pigs to their death at a pork processing plant in Ontario. When the trailer was stopped at a traffic light, the activist attempted to give the overheated pigs some water. Charged with criminal mischief, the activist is now facing 6 months of jail time and/or a $5,000 fine. To support their argument that she was not harming the pigs by giving them water but attempting to do the opposite, in addition to expert witnesses the activist’s legal team is bringing in a VR experience into the courtroom as evidence to make jurors feel what it’s like to be a pig headed to the slaughter.
2. BARACK VR
Now President Obama can add “virtual reality star” to his legacy. As our favorite basketball-playing, beer drinking Head of State, the Prez again proves how cool he really is: persuading people of the value of our national parks via a 360 degree video of Yosemite. In honor of the 100th anniversary of America’s National Parks Service, the experience was produced by Felix and Paul Studios, Oculus, and National Geographic (don’t you love NatGeo?). It’s a scenic tour around the breathtaking beauty of Yosemite over Father’s Day weekend, narrated by the President… and, yes, it made me proud to be an American.
3. SLIVER TV BRINGS ESPORTS TO VIRTUAL REALITY W/ $6.2M IN FUNDING
eSports is an enormous business, worth almost $900M now and expected to be a billion dollar industry by 2017. As recent proof of the staggering popularity of livestreamed eSports, the NBC Olympics viewership rates were often outnumbered by Twitch viewers. Sliver TV has joined other companies like Vreal in the quest to take eSports virtual – however, Sliver supports quite a few popular traditional titles plus the three most popular ones: League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and Dota (which pull a combined audience of almost 140M viewers out of the current total 250M eSports viewers).
Sliver has proprietary technology that turns 2D eSports into a VR experience, and utilizes patented arrays of “virtual cameras” in spectator mode to record live streams – which are (at this point) not available to also be viewed live. The stealth company launched an early beta for mobile VR on iOS and Android, and support for PSVR, Gear VR, Oculus Rift, and HTC Vive will be released soon. Sliver TV has raised $6.2M in seed funding from the likes of The Venture Reality Fund, Sierra Ventures, DCM Ventures, COLOPL, and Japanese mobile gaming company GREE.
4. NEW GEAR VR + SAMSUNG PATENT: BIOMETRIC AUTHENTICATION
The next edition of the Samsung Gear VR is here – and not too much has changed. It’s now in navy blue, excuse me, blue black – and has added 5 more degrees to the field of view to make the FOV 101 degrees (for context, the Rift and the Vive are both 110 degree FOV). It does have a new USB Type-C connector, which could possibly open up opportunities for 3rd party peripheral systems. However, Samsung also just patented a couple of biometric authentication devices to add the the Gear Fit – and possibly the Gear VR, as well. A fingerprint sensor for the Gear Fit is standard at this point, but Samsung also introduced biometric iris sensors for eyewear – leading some to speculate that this could be applied to the Gear VR. Talk amongst yourselves…
5. HTC SEDUCES DEVELOPERS TO VIVEPORT W/ $500K PRIZE
HTC is attempting to incentivize developers to create content for their non-gaming focused content platform, Viveport– with half a million dollars’ worth in cash and other prizes. Viveport launched in China in April, and will be broadly released this fall – and HTC wants to make sure there is plenty of content ready to go in their platform which seems aimed at separating themselves from the Valve-owned Steam store. Viveport concentrates on the “Discover, Create, Connect, Watch and Shop” categories: information, edutainment, social media, 360 videos, sports, news, travel, health, and of course… shopping.