In Broadcast - June 2016 - 62


62

www.inbroadcast.com | Vol: 6 - Issue 6 | June 2016

InUSA

The Real Challenge
For VR Is Revenue
Contributing Editor Michael Grotticelli examines the issues surrounding
the buzz over augmented reality and virtual reality technology...

F

resh off its successful use at
the 2016 French Open Tennis
Tournament virtual reality (VR) or
augmented reality (AR) is having its
day in the sun and enjoying widespread
adoption as the next big thing in
television history... although you don't
use a TV to watch it.
VR viewers use a dedicated mobile
app on their iOS, Android and Samsung
Gear smart phones attached to a
special headset device that allows
them to see immersive 360 degree
views of live or replayed matches in
4K resolution captured with a special
camera - in this case the Orah 4i Live
Spherical VR Camera introduced at the
NAB Show in April.
Indeed, there's been a lot of
investment and countless man hours
spent trying to get VR to be more
than just another technical gimmick.
And it's being looked at as the next
saviour technology for a consumer
electronics industry always in need of
the "next best thing" to grow revenue.
However, to this point - no company or
marketing guru has quite figured out
which industry is going to want and
embrace it.
This technology is not new. I tested
out a prototype VR system at the Jet
Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena,
California in 1992. It was a tethered
and quite rudimentary headset and
a separate wired glove I wore on my
right hand that allowed me to point
and click on different objects in a

room. Admittedly, the images were
clunky and the rendered frame rate
was about 15 frames per second. The
technology was expensive and never
found mass appeal. Yet the idea was
novel and showed how new worlds
could be accurately created from
computer models.
So, in basic terms, what is the
difference between VR and AR? Virtual
reality is an artificial, computergenerated simulation or recreation of
a real life environment or situation.
It immerses the user by making them
feel like they are experiencing the
simulated reality firsthand, primarily
by stimulating their vision and hearing.
VR is typically achieved by wearing
a headset like Facebook's Oculus
equipped with a smart phone that
delivers live streams of the content to
the headset.
VR is made possible through a coding
language known as Virtual Reality
Modelling Language (VRML) that is
used to create a series of images, and
specify what types of interactions are
possible for them.
On the other hand augmented reality
is a technology that layers computergenerated enhancements atop an
existing reality in order to make it
more meaningful through the ability
to interact with it. Many developers
have built AR into apps and used it
on mobile devices to blend digital
components into the real world in such
a way that they enhance one another,

Gamers will be the first adopters of VR technology in significant numbers

but can also be told apart easily.
AR technology is quickly coming
into the mainstream. It is used to
display score overlays on telecasted
sports games and pop out 3D emails,
photos or text messages on mobile
devices. Many top content developers
are now using AR to do amazing and
revolutionary things with holograms
and motion activated commands that
can potentially be used for digital
signage and commercial kiosks
applications.
Use Case
Aside from military and law
enforcement usage, there's gaming,
and major television events, real
estate and other types of outdoor
venue marketing opportunities, but
the scope thus far, while it might
appear to be wide open, is limited. I
was surprised to see a recent exhibit
at the 2016 NAB Show, where several
small startups were showing their
latest projects. While the technology
shown was interesting to watch, it
didn't seem to interest the radio and
television broadcasters in attendance
there at all. Predictive analogies for
"3D" were thrown around at parties a
lot that week in Las Vegas. And, VR is
not for everyone. The key to growing
the business is finding the end user.
The research firms and annual
predictors of new horizons all say the
sky's the limit with VR. Recent (and
continuing) major capital investment
in R&D as well as outright acquisitions
from companies like Facebook, Google,
HTTC, Samsung Electronics and Sony
Corp. have made the sector hot right
now. Yes, the market interest from
venture capital investors is hotter than
it is for drones.
Why? Maybe they want to sell you the
headset you need to enter and enjoy
the virtual world. Another research
report from an Industry analyst firm
called CCS Insight - Augmented and
Virtual Reality Device Forecast, 20152019 - which says that 2.5 million VR
devices were sold in 2015 and that that
number will rise to a more than 24

The Orah 4i VR Camera
deployed at the French Open

million, with a worldwide market worth
more than US$5.2 billion, by 2018.
That's a good reason for all the hype.
Production companies large and
small are gearing up to create new
types of programming, but are finding
it difficult to build environments that
are pleasing to every user. Those
considering creating VR content have
to understand that the viewer needs a
good storyline to help them navigate
these new worlds. Gamers might
understand this a bit better, but as
veteran storytellers video production
professionals have to hone their
skills and make the experience an
entertaining one.
And that's the biggest fear with
VR and the nascent industry rapidly
growing up around it. It has to have
a "wow" factor right out of the box. It
has to be more than 3DTV. When you
ask a user to commit to using a special
piece of hardware and a subscription
fee to immerse themselves in an
artificial reality, it has to be worth it.
There are lots of great, creative
minds hard at work in VR and AR
content and delivery systems.
Proponents of the technology say
it is finally ready for consumers.
Computers are now powerful enough
to deliver images that are high
enough in resolution to look real while
refreshing them frequently enough to
prevent the kind of stuttering video
that can destroy the virtual effect. And
the cost of sensors and high-definition
displays - those not requiring a
smartphone - have dropped to the
point that sophisticated VR headsets
can potentially be sold for less than
US$1,000.
I think the industry, in whatever
sector it takes to, will be a limited, but
thriving industry and the experience
will be worth it for a dedicated group.
A bit of thought is warranted here
to figure out the revenue model. It's
still early (many predict real market
penetration of any kind is at least five
years away) for the technology and it
remains to be seen if people in large
enough numbers pay for it.


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of In Broadcast - June 2016

In Broadcast - June 2016 - Intro
In Broadcast - June 2016 - Cover1
In Broadcast - June 2016 - Cover2
In Broadcast - June 2016 - 3
In Broadcast - June 2016 - 4
In Broadcast - June 2016 - 5
In Broadcast - June 2016 - 6
In Broadcast - June 2016 - 7
In Broadcast - June 2016 - 8
In Broadcast - June 2016 - 9
In Broadcast - June 2016 - 10
In Broadcast - June 2016 - 11
In Broadcast - June 2016 - 12
In Broadcast - June 2016 - 13
In Broadcast - June 2016 - 14
In Broadcast - June 2016 - 15
In Broadcast - June 2016 - 16
In Broadcast - June 2016 - 17
In Broadcast - June 2016 - 18
In Broadcast - June 2016 - 19
In Broadcast - June 2016 - 20
In Broadcast - June 2016 - 21
In Broadcast - June 2016 - 22
In Broadcast - June 2016 - 23
In Broadcast - June 2016 - 24
In Broadcast - June 2016 - 25
In Broadcast - June 2016 - 26
In Broadcast - June 2016 - 27
In Broadcast - June 2016 - 28
In Broadcast - June 2016 - 29
In Broadcast - June 2016 - 30
In Broadcast - June 2016 - 31
In Broadcast - June 2016 - 32
In Broadcast - June 2016 - 33
In Broadcast - June 2016 - 34
In Broadcast - June 2016 - 35
In Broadcast - June 2016 - 36
In Broadcast - June 2016 - 37
In Broadcast - June 2016 - 38
In Broadcast - June 2016 - 39
In Broadcast - June 2016 - 40
In Broadcast - June 2016 - 41
In Broadcast - June 2016 - 42
In Broadcast - June 2016 - 43
In Broadcast - June 2016 - 44
In Broadcast - June 2016 - 45
In Broadcast - June 2016 - 46
In Broadcast - June 2016 - 47
In Broadcast - June 2016 - 48
In Broadcast - June 2016 - 49
In Broadcast - June 2016 - 50
In Broadcast - June 2016 - 51
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In Broadcast - June 2016 - 53
In Broadcast - June 2016 - 54
In Broadcast - June 2016 - 55
In Broadcast - June 2016 - 56
In Broadcast - June 2016 - 57
In Broadcast - June 2016 - 58
In Broadcast - June 2016 - 59
In Broadcast - June 2016 - 60
In Broadcast - June 2016 - 61
In Broadcast - June 2016 - 62
In Broadcast - June 2016 - 63
In Broadcast - June 2016 - 64
In Broadcast - June 2016 - 65
In Broadcast - June 2016 - 66
In Broadcast - June 2016 - 67
In Broadcast - June 2016 - 68
In Broadcast - June 2016 - 69
In Broadcast - June 2016 - S1
In Broadcast - June 2016 - S2
In Broadcast - June 2016 - S3
In Broadcast - June 2016 - S4
In Broadcast - June 2016 - S5
In Broadcast - June 2016 - S6
In Broadcast - June 2016 - S7
In Broadcast - June 2016 - S8
In Broadcast - June 2016 - S9
In Broadcast - June 2016 - S10
In Broadcast - June 2016 - S11
In Broadcast - June 2016 - S12
In Broadcast - June 2016 - S13
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