We’ve all heard it before, “content is king.” However, without an effective means of distribution, even the best content could fall short of its potential within its respective market. In this blog post, I will explore the current state of the virtual reality (VR) industry, the two main distribution problems it has, and one company that thinks it has a solution to these problems.
The Current State of the Virtual Reality Industry: If you have been on Facebook within the last year then you’ve probably noticed the recent trend in the amount of 360 degree videos distributed online. 360 video allows the viewer to choose their own journey, as these videos are created with smartphones in mind, allowing for the user to watch the video on a device they already own. Although 360 video is an early form of immersive video, a truly immersive experience will come with VR.
VR can be defined as an environment, either one that currently exists which is simulated or one that is created from scratch, that can be explored by a person with proper VR equipment. Some of the equipment needed can be as simple as a smartphone that is mounted in front of a person’s eyes via cardboard (Google Cardboard). However, in order to create a more immersive VR experience, the VR industry is making a push towards head mounted displays, or HMDs.
Some of the more popular HMDs created recently are the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive which both allow you to consume VR content with the intended effect of being extremely immersive. There is no doubt we have the technology, but much like the current situation of 4K television content, we are missing an effective and efficient distribution method to consume this VR content.
The Distribution Problem: The problem with VR comes with its distribution and getting the content to work on all of the different VR platforms and devices. First, the bandwidth needed to consume VR content smoothly is fairly significant and creates problems for large files. Because of this large amount of bandwidth needed, VR content creators are forced to give up quality in order to make the files more manageable which results in heavy compression.
Another problem that emerges when trying to distribute VR content is transcoding and making the content viewable on many different VR devices. Before we had the two major smartphone operating systems (iOS and Android), we had a similar problem of guaranteeing applications to work on multiple devices (forcing developers to choose one platform over the other). Although these two problems are major obstacles for VR content creators, there are still companies looking to solve these issues. This is where Jaunt comes in.
The Distribution Solution: Jaunt is a cinematic VR start up that gained major attention after Disney invested in them in September of 2015. Since then, many employees from Disney owned production company, Lucasfilm, have joined Jaunt’s team to expand their presence in the VR industry. Why does this matter? Jaunt is looking to solve the distribution problem the VR industry has by creating a way to consume VR content via their website and a mobile application full of curated content from many content creators in a way that is efficient in terms of bandwidth.
Jaunt’s website and mobile application not only provide a way for people to access high quality, cinematic VR content, but it also allows them to view the content on many different VR devices. Jaunt is able to transcode their VR content in order to guarantee that it will work on the majority of VR devices that consumers currently own.
After looking at the problems with VR distribution and Jaunt’s attempt at addressing these issues, it is easy to see that we are still in the early stages of VR, but we’re not too far away from VR becoming a common way to consumer many types of media.
What do you think? Once VR content can be easily distributed and consumed, would you buy a HMD? Also, what are some of the other ways you can see VR technology being used in the future?