Right now, it’s a forgone conclusion whether VR will be a major source of entertainment technology within the next year. If the introduction of the sub-$100 Samsung Gear VR and the high competition between Oculus, Sony, Google, HTC and others over developing the perfect approach to entering the consumer market didn’t convince you, then look no further than the content partners already primed for the medium.
Netflix, Twitch, and Facebook will all bring entertainment content to VR, in different and interesting ways. But it’s not just the giants that will help drive VR forward — it’s content created and shared worldwide.
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That’s what makes New York-based YouVisit stand out: when I met them at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco, the company had a livestream of the event running online. Despite difficult connectivity from within the event, the company maintained working visuals of the event designed to be viewed through a VR headset.
“VR has been around for 40 or 50 years, but the hardware and the software are finally getting there, so that’s what makes the experience great,” said Endri Tolka, co-founder of YouVisit, on a call with TNW.
A bootstrapped company that started out in 2009, YouVisit was one of the early developer backers of the Oculus, and has created a library of virtual tours. Everything from Harvard University to Machu Picchu has been designed as a sort of novel way to immerse yourself into a place.
“Right now we have apps in the Android Store, iTunes, so anyone with a smartphone can see a lot of the VR experiences we’re creating.” Tolka said.
The tours themselves show the value of real-world content — not just virtual or game spaces — on VR, but it’s the next phase in YouVisit’s work that is most intriguing. The livestream was conducted with one of YouVisit’s new proprietary 360-degree cameras.
Currently, the company has developed 4-, 7- and 14-camera rigs for video content, with the smaller two optimized for livestreaming. The rigs capture 4K video at 60fps for an accessible livestream available via desktop and mobile.
Tolka says that the hardware is currently marketed as an end-to-end system for live events, but that the goal for YouVisit is to become a platform for content creators. He anticipates the rigs to be rentable or purchasable by both companies and individuals, but the tech isn’t quite ready yet.
“It’s not available for purchase just yet — these are cameras we’re testing internally, and hopefully we’ll make these available shortly,” he said.
Still, there’s a lot of potential in YouVisit’s hardware. There still aren’t many rivals offering gear to capture the high-quality immersive video that YouVisit promises. Priced competitively, it could be powerful.
YouVisit is also just one company of many competing to be there at the dawn of VR. The next few months will sure be exciting.