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October 2015

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Page 41 of 51 40 POST OCTOBER 2015 REALITY virtual VR RISES: MAKING, EXPERIENCING VR he second coming of VR is prov- ing to be a big hit. It is fascinating consumers, inspiring game developers, and the Hollywood studios seem to have lost their minds. The summer of 2015 will go down as the summer of VR. It marks the period of time when VR has gone from curiosity to serious trend. Since May 2015, it's been almost impossible to go to any conference and not see a VR demonstration. This goes for design and manufacturing confer- ences, as well as media and entertain- ment. VR has been a major focus at the AWE (Augmented World Expo), the E3 gaming conference, the SIGGRAPH 2015 show and the VRLA meetup. With each conference, we've seen an advance in the development of products, content, hardware and infrastructure. Google has changed the equation of VR with its introduction of the free — or almost free — headsets based on the Google Cardboard VR design, which works with mobile phones. It reports that it has distributed over 1 million sets to date. At IBC this year, Intel was giving away handy foldup modules. A look at Amazon reveals that Cardboard-based devices range from around $5 to $40. The Samsung Gear VR, which is de- signed for Samsung phones, uses the Oculus Rift technology and is available now for less than $200. By the holidays, there will be a flood of low-cost VR viewers for mobile phones, including the Mattel View-Master, and in 2016, we'll see the first high-end headsets, including the HTC Vive, Sony's Morpheus and the Oculus Rift, with more to follow. With the one million mark already broken, and hundreds of thousands of sales expected following this year's holi- day season, VR technology has achieved enough of a base to justify some serious content creation. Preliminary and conser- vative estimates at JPR add up to about 72 million headsets being sold in 2020. Most of them will be Cardboard based, but by that time the big companies and their marketing machines will have cranked up to push many more high-end headsets out the door, along with more advanced gaming and entertainment applications. Ironically, a rise and leveling off of stereoscopic 3D for movie theaters has provided something of a jumping off point for VR enthusiasts in Hollywood. While there may have been a teensy bit of over-exuberance about the future of stereoscopic 3D in movies, and the technology has failed repeatedly to make its way out of the theaters and into the home market, stereoscopic 3D is not go- ing away. Stereoscopic 3D is finding itself as a medium and the lessons learned are helping developers and content creators as they explore the potential for VR. The Foundry's chief scientist Simon Robinson points out that all the tools and the work that has gone into developing 3D content provides a base for creating VR content. The demand for 3D content meant that tools were created to work with and conform massive amounts of data to create stereoscopic views. All that work now flows into VR, which is adding new demands and changing the way people think about movies. At IBC 2015, Steve Schklair who, as CEO of 3al- ity drove innovation in 3D content cap- ture with 3D camera rigs, announced his new company 3mersive, which is working with Nokia's OZO camera to develop content for VR. The company is looking at live and captured content to pres- ent for concerts, sporting events, and news, to name a few examples. Schklair says they're also interested in the work being done at JauntVR. Arthur Van Hoff, CTO at JauntVR, was showing off the company's new JauntVR Neo camera at IBC (photo, top right). He's also enthusi- astic about fictional content, but he and Schklair both agree a new language of VR must be invented in the same way our culture developed a language for film and theater. Interestingly, games have already mastered some of the challenges of 3D storytelling. Developers know how to di- rect a gamer's attention and move them through the game. What they're not all that great at is telling a compelling story. At the minimum, games are designed for at least eight hours of game play and most gamers demand much more for their gaming dollars. In contrast, movies now average 90 to 120 minutes. Most people can only tolerate a few minutes in a VR headset. This, too, is something that has to be worked out and will influence the development of content. In the long run, it's anyone's guess how the trend will actually play out, but VR technology will stay with us, grow in use, and possibly evolve into a main- stream commodity. BY KATHLEEN MAHER VICE PRESIDENT JON PEDDIE RESEARCH TIBURON, CA HTTP://JONPEDDIE.COM T VR technology and content are searching for each other. JPR believes gaming will supply the early base of users, but as providers experiment with content, we'll see new applications. Above, Jaunt's VR camera.

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