How 360° video projection is created and why it’s worth your time, by Miriam Harris

You’re probably familiar with 360° video by now. Forward-thinking brands are experimenting with 360° video content on Facebook all the time, but imagine being right in the middle of a room-sized 360 video. 

Stepping inside the 360° walls of Igloo Vision at London’s VRLO to be surrounded by peaceful scenes of the beach at sunset, underwater, and our solar system, I was quickly hooked with the idea of immersive 360° video panoramic projection.

Igloo Vision creates immersive 360° projection environments aka giant domes or cylinders (accommodating up to 1,000 people), and Blend Media are the masters of 360° video content, which is projected onto the walls of the dome/cylinder, creating a whole room experience that lets you escape reality for a moment. Visualise is a virtual reality (VR) production studio, but it also specialises in 360°video content creation. It offers 360° video, VR apps, 360 post production and 360° live streaming.

But what exactly is a whole room experience and how can 360° video benefit us beyond brand engagement? We take a look at what Blend Media and Igloo Vision offer to the world of immersive technology.

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Dear Reality Release New Workflow For Spacial Audio, by Rebecca Hills-Duty

Spacial Connect workflow allows for 3D audio to be controlled from within a VR environment.

The Spacial Connect workflow allows users to export data as object-based audio directly to the Unity engine for both Vr or 360-degree video production. Dear Reality are accepting applications for users to join the Beta testing. Further information can be found on the Dear Reality website.

Spacial Connect works with almost any Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) connected to a HTC Vive or Oculus Rift to allow any sound designer, audio engineer or musician to create 3D audio content for VR.

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Facebook’s Oculus woos game makers as virtual reality faces hurdles, by Queenie Wong

This file photo taken on June 14, 2017 shows Gaming fans wearing VR goggles to play “Echo Arena” from Oculus on day two of E3 2017, the three day Electronic Entertainment Expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center in Los Angeles, California. Facebook-owned Oculus has been beefing beefing up the content it offers to attract more consumers. FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

Facebook-owned Oculus wants game makers to buy into the future of virtual reality, but for some developers, creating content for a smaller audience is also a gamble.

Despite all the hype surrounding the technology, virtual reality headsets aren’t flying off the shelves as quickly as some analysts expected.

Oculus has been putting its money where its mouth is by funding developers ready to get into the game.

“Developers get so incredibly geeked out by technology that selling them on VR is the easiest part of my job. That leaves only the business,” said Oculus’ Vice President of Content Jason Rubin in an interview.

When the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset was released in March 2016, only 30 VR titles were available. Now more than 500 titles have been released.

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Iconic German Film Das Boot To Get VR Videogame, by Peter Graham

For those unaware, back in 1981 an anti-war story revolving around the crew of a German U-boat during World War II, Das Boot, was released, becoming one of the most successful German films ever. Recently, Sky, Sonar Entertainment, and Bavaria Fernsehproduktion, have revealed a collaboration to recreate the film as a TV series which is scheduled for release in late 2018. Alongside this, remote control productions (RCP) has been employed to create a virtual reality (VR) title to compliment the show.

Working with Bavaria Fernsehproduktion, RCP aims to capture the essence of the popular movie and the upcoming TV series, with a special focus on the anti-war message. Players will be able to submerge themselves into the story of a German U-boat crew, experiencing the oppressive narrowness of submarine life and the horrors of war.

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Microsoft Is Making First-Party Content For Its Windows 10 VR Headsets, by Jamie Feltham

Microsoft will need the support of the greater VR development community if its new Windows 10 Mixed Reality VR headsets are to succeed when they launch later this year, but what about potential first-party content too? That’s in the works already, the company assures.

Speaking to GameSpot, Microsoft general manager Dave McCarthy stated that “several” of the company’s first-party studios are working on content for the headsets, which are made in partnership with companies like Acer, Dell, and Asus.

“I would say developers are still finding their way to define the killer experience there, which is great at this point in its evolution overall,” McCarthy said. “We believe in it enough that we have several of our first-party studios actually working on content for our Windows 10 devices. We’ll have more to talk about later this year on that.”

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Sony Music Inks Deal With Virtual Reality App MelodyVR, by Marc Schneider

Comstock/Getty Images

Sony Music is the latest label group to enter into a licensing agreement with virtual reality startup MelodyVR. Under the terms of the deal, announced Monday, MelodyVR receives the right to produce and distribute VR content by Sony’s roster of artists for its upcoming app. As with previous deals, most recently with Universal Music Group, announced in March, the content will initially be available on MelodyVR before it is released to both parties.

Anthony Matchett, the CEO of MelodyVR’s parent EVR Holdings, said the completion of negotiations with all three majors — Warner Music paved the way, in December 2016 — provides “significant validation in regard to our market leading position, our on-going success and the long-term value of our business,” adding that it “positions our company as the world’s only fully licensed VR music platform.”

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NPR wins award to experiment with virtual-reality audio, by April Simpson

A team at NPR is the winner of a grant to develop virtual-reality stories that will transport listeners to audio-rich soundscapes.

The NPR project is among 11 winners of the Journalism 360 Challenge awards announced Tuesday. Presented by the Knight Foundation, Google News Lab and the Online News Association, the grants of $15,000–$30,000 support the use of immersive storytelling in news.

Other winners include efforts to make immersive storytelling more accessible to community and ethnic media and to help journalists and others create location-based data visualizations in a virtual-reality format.

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The Mira Prism turns your iPhone into an augmented reality headset for $99, by Adi Robertson

Photo by James Bareham / The Verge

When I first put on the Mira Prism augmented reality headset, I was skeptical. AR is a proven concept in fields like surgery and mechanics, but nobody’s made a good pair of glasses for everyday use. They’re not cheap enough, they’re not sleek enough, and there’s not enough to do on them. But as I was surprised to find, Mira isn’t just another company with a clunky proof of concept and some big promises. Yes, the Prism is as weird-looking as lots of AR headsets — and for most people, it’ll be more novel than useful — but it’s the first headset I’ve seen that won’t charge you hundreds (or thousands) of dollars for that novelty.

The Mira Prism doesn’t contain any electronics. It’s a shell like Samsung’s Gear VR or Google’s Daydream View, but for augmented reality. To use it, you open a Mira-enabled app on your iPhone, then slide it into the Prism. The screen faces away from you and toward a transparent visor, which reflects the image back across your vision. Objects appear to float in front of you, rendered in stereoscopic 3D. The experience is very different from “mixed reality” that pipes a camera feed into a VR headset, because you’re seeing the real world at full resolution through your own eyes.

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Kandao Obsidian VR camera launches early adopter program, by Alex Hernandez

You can probably file the Kandao Obsidian VR camera under the “out of my price range” folder considering its $9,999USD price tag.

You can probably already guess that the Kandao Obsidian isn’t intended for the consumer market but it is still an interesting piece of camera technology. Both the Kandao Obsidian R and Obsidian S are comprised of 6 fish-eye synced lenses that can capture high-quality stereoscopic and spherical videos/photos and time-lapses, supporting three recording modes (flat, standard, and log), and DNG format for photos.

The Obsidian R features 8K (7,680 x 7,680) high-resolution recording at 30 fps, the Obsidian S is optimized for high frame rate shooting, producing up to 120 fps footage in 4K resolution, as well as 6K x 6K resolution at 30 or 50 fps, which is ideal for the high-end professionals who need high speed VR content, like motion or sports. Both cameras are Wi-Fi enabled through one Ethernet cable for fast connectivity to mobile devices or laptops, making remote control a much easier for professional directors.

The Kandao Obsidian cameras also offer up a software solution that can do post-processing, editing, stitching, video encoding, and live streaming. The stitching process of Kandao Studio is built on optical flow code and optimized by a deep learning algorithm to generate seamless and natural stereoscopic 360 panoramas automatically, capturing depth information from images as well.

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The smartphone is eventually going to die, and Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Facebook are racing to kill it, by Matt Weinberger

Thomson Reuters

These are the quiet times.

From April to June, tech’s biggest companies all held their annual mega-events, laying out their grand visions for the next 12 months or so.

Facebook kicked it off in late April with its F8 conference, followed by Microsoft Build, then the Google I/O conference, and Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference finished things off. Amazon doesn’t really hold events, but it unveiled two new Amazon Echo smart speakers during that period for good measure.

And things will get exciting again, sooner than you know it. This Fall, Apple is expected to reveal a 10th-anniversary iPhone, Google will likely reveal a revamped Pixel smartphone, and Microsoft is expected to hold another one of its regular late-October Surface computer press conferences.

In the meantime, there’s not much to do but reflect on what we’ve learned so far this year about the future of tech. And beyond the hype and the hyperbole, we’re starting to see the very earliest stages of a battle for the next phase of computing.

Because while Apple and Google may dominate the smartphone market today, technologies like augmented reality present whole-new platforms where there’s no clear winner. So Amazon, Microsoft, and Facebook, having missed out on owning a mobile platform, are doing their damndest to hasten the end of the smartphone — and the end of Apple and Google’s duopoly, while they’re at it.

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