VR technologies to draw big focus at IBC 2016

When the Oculus Rift launched earlier this year, it was one of the first consumer VR devices to market. Image: Oculus
1. Welcome to FierceCable's 2016 IBC Preview Issue
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3. VR technologies to draw big focus at IBC 2016
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Global MSO investment in virtual reality platforms seems to be ramping up as providers look to be in on what could be the next wave of in-home entertainment.

JPMorgan Securities predicted the VR market will be worth $13.5 billion by 2020, and major operators like Comcast are already betting big on that future, placing multiple high-dollar investment bids on companies like NextVR and Felix & Paul Studios.

Likewise, content creators are working through the details like codecs and formatting that will go into making VR content across categories like video and gaming.

But there’s still a significant amount of work to be done before VR really takes off.

“We are in such an early stage of development with the technology,” Michael Goodman, director of digital media strategies at Strategy Analytics, told FierceCable, noting that the first commercial headsets just launched this year. “[Virtual reality] has tremendous potential but we have much to learn about what’s going to work and what’s not going to work.”

Goodman said VR is going to require a new set of technology and new thinking in terms of network infrastructure in order to deliver services like 360-degree video. He said questions about how to do that will likely be a big focus at next week’s IBC conference.

At the show, attendees will have the chance to learn more about the re-emerging technology at sessions like “Virtual Reality: The New Reality” on Sept. 10 at 3 p.m., a master class on virtual sets and virtual production featuring director Robert Zemeckis on Sept. 10 at 4:15 p.m, and a conversation between TBI’s Stewart Clarke and The Foundry’s Alex Mahon on transitioning from traditional TV to VR.

In addition, IBC said there will be a “special focus” on VR and AR technology and production methodology in the Future Zone at this year’s show:

  • Argon360 will be demonstrating how to use a chip in a camera to stitch together video from multiple cameras and sensors to build 360-degree viewing experiences.
  • LiveLike will be showing off a social sharing app for VR that allows viewers to see and interact with an avatar representing a social media friend, making it possible to virtually celebrate with a friend while taking in a sporting event
  • B-com will be showing how to apply High Order Ambisonic audio to VR content
  • Motion Impossible will be showing off and letting guests get hands on with its remote moving and stabilizing 360-degree cameras

Outside of the events and special sessions that IBC has planned around VR, many of the vendors have plans to announce new advancements and technologies in the field. Harmonic, in collaboration with Dutch research institute TNO, will demonstrate what it’s calling the “first native UHD virtual reality (VR) technology.”

“We believe HEVC tiling is the most promising technology for delivering high video quality on head-mounted VR devices. Working together with TNO’s world-leading experts on this technology demonstration, we’ll bring to life outstanding VR experiences with native UHD resolution,” said Bart Spriester, senior vice president of video products at Harmonic, in a statement.

Other exhibitors will be at IBC ready to talk about VR, including Adobe, which is still touting its virtual reality editing updates to Premiere Pro, and CDN provider Wowza, which is addressing VR market segments with its cloud solutions.

In all, IBC 2016 should provide a comprehensive look at what’s happening today and what could be happening tomorrow with virtual reality.