VR Industry Forum launches with Sony Pictures, Ericsson, NAB, others on board

Samsung VR headset

The Virtual Reality Industry Forum (VRIF) is the latest nonprofit industry group assembled to help push widespread adoption of virtual reality.

Founding members include Akamai Technologies, ARRIS International, b<>com, Baylor University, CableLabs, Cinova Media, Dolby Laboratories, DTG, DTS, EBU, Ericsson, Fraunhofer, Harmonic, Huawei, Intel, Irdeto, Ittiam, MovieLabs, NABPILOT, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., Technicolor, TNO, Sky, Sony Pictures, Vantrix, Verizon, Viaccess-Orca and Orah.

The Forum sprang up from a series of meetings over the past year in which the group has looked at ways to agree on industry standards for an “interoperable, end-to-end ecosystem presenting high-quality audio-visual VR services.”

“We hope to ensure that the VR industry avoids the fragmentation of standards and formats that has plagued audio-visual media in the past,” said David Price, vice president of business development at Ericsson, in a statement. “We expect that many of those involved in the original informal discussions will join VRIF shortly.”

VRIF has stated its specific goals as advocating for voluntary consensus on common VR technical standards, interoperability, best practices guidelines, and general promotion of VR services and apps.

RELATED: Sony, Google, Facebook and others announce Global Virtual Reality Association

The VRIF comes to the fore less than a month after the official launch of the Global Virtual Reality Association (GVRA), a group counting Acer Starbreeze, Google, HTC Vive, Facebook’s Oculus, Samsung and Sony Interactive Entertainment among its members.

The GVRA members are mostly headset vendors—as opposed to the VRIF membership which includes many technology vendors, industry groups and service providers—but its stated goals don’t veer too far from the VRIF’s similar sounding mission to help foster development and adoption for VR.

“The organization will foster dialogue between public and private stakeholders in VR around the world and make education and training material available to the public. Working groups will be organized around important topics for the industry, enabling us to produce relevant research and guidance,” the GVRA said on its website. “We will also host and participate in international discussions on important topics in VR to shape the public discussion on the technology. Ultimately, the group will develop best practices and share them openly.”

But the VRIF is careful to point out that it differs from other VR industry groups like the VRAR Association, the VR Society and the Immersive Technology Alliance.

"First and foremost, the VRIF has an end to end perspective, from the initial creative storytelling through to the human consumption. This involves a lot of moving parts that all have to work in synch for the best user experience. Other associations have a bias towards certain verticals such as gaming or certain sectors such as Head Mounted Displays,” the VRIF said in a statement. “We are a Forum rather than an Association meaning that we come together to exchange ideas and to seek a greater understanding of a very complex creation, delivery and consumption model.”