Virtual Reality Changes the Way We View Videos

February 1, 2016 | Rob LaPointe

Virtual Reality Changes the Way We View Videos
Virtual Reality Changes the Way We View Videos

Many years ago, your dear writer worked in a movie theater for many years. When I was slinging popcorn and soda, I was spending my time in a darkened room, with nothing but film and my thoughts. Back then, movies were sent to us on reels – about 6 to the average film – and we had to spend a few hours spinning the reels together onto a platter.

After my tenure, technology advanced to the point where the film went away. No longer were movies mailed in heavy metal containers containing quite literally miles of film. They were sent on USBs and plugged into giant computer/projector hybrids.

Then the movie experience moved into people’s homes with high definition televisions and Blu-Ray. Today, even the cheapest TVs deliver a crisper more vivid visual experience than the theaters of my day. TVs can even deliver a 3D experience, much like many movie theaters.

This experience is very close to virtual reality (VR) – but not as close as the actual virtual reality experience already available. Yep – tech like Samsung’s Gear VR and the Oculus Rift create wholly new ways of viewing videos. Where once a movie, TV show or video was viewed, it is now lived.

VR videos use the 360-degree video capturing technologies used in 3D movies, but the videos themselves are viewed through a headset, which transports you visually and auditorily to an entirely new world. While this method of filming is quite difficult, it is the future of film. It will be an completely new entertainment experience – a revolution that is arguably bigger than the switch from film to radio.

Possibly even more revolutionary is the step up in technology which allows people to use their smartphones as VR headsets. I’m talking about Google’s new(ish) project called Google Cardboard. Google Cardboard is a simple headset designed to hold mobile devices, combined with 2 software dev kits to support VR and Augmented Reality apps (read more about the difference between AR & VR here).

In other words, right now is the perfect opportunity to get involved in VR/AR apps – all you need is an idea – and the right development partner! The following is a brief introduction into what the Cardboard project is and what types of apps are successful on the platform.

Google Cardboard

There is no manufacturer for Google Cardboard headsets. Yep, you read that correctly – no one officially produces and sells the actual headset. In fact, the headset is where the name comes from: There are several manufacturers of certified viewer, ranging from $5 to $3, or users can fold their own, based off instructions provided by Google.

Admittedly, the idea of a cardboard headset would seem unlikely to take off as a business idea. But there are a few things we need to take into account here:

    1. This is Google we’re talking about. Google has a record of taking moon shots and making them. In fact, they have a whole part of the company dedicated to just such projects.

    2. Google has excellent engineers and developers. Plus they’re known for innovation and being ahead of the game.

    3. In the 19 months since the Cardboard project hit the market, there have been some pretty impressive stirrings in the market. Let’s take a look at some stats:

      a. 1.5 million users have joined;

      b. Over 1,000 Cardboard apps have launched;

      c. 350,000 hours of Youtube videos have been watched via Cardboard (that’s roughly 14,584 hours, or 40 YEARS!!!)

      d. There have been over 25 million downloads of Cardboard app;

      Importantly, nearly half of these downloads were from this past October to December alone!

    4. Nearly 1 million VR photos taken; and

    5. Half a million students have taken immersive VR field trips to hundreds of locations without ever leaving their classroom.

So what can the savvy businessperson divine from this numbers-heavy information?

    • One, that this is taking off, and taking off now. Today, not tomorrow is the time to get started on your own Cardboard app.

    • Two, there’s a huge potential to make some money here;

    • Three, Google is putting a lot into supporting this project, so they aren’t likely to abandon it anytime soon;

    • Four, visually and auditory immersive apps are perfect for the Cardboard experience.

i.e. video and tourist experiences are the most successful. Gaming apps, while still popular, aren’t quite as big.

Basically, the type of app that will do well with VR tech like Cardboard are apps that focus on stereoscopic (3D) video experiences. Think of an app that allows you to view the Sistine Chapel while sitting on your couch. Or think of experiencing Star Wars as if you were flying in the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon yourself. The list goes on!

Start Your Own VR App Project Today

SDI is a mobile app, website and software development company based in the heart of Silicon Valley. Whether your project is a single VR app or a tech startup looking to build some steam, we have the expertise and experience to get you where you want. Contact us directly or call us at 408.621.8481.

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