The Virtual Reality of IBC 2016 (Part 1)

Every year at IBC there is always a buzz about “this year’s big thing”. In 2013/14 it was 3D TV (remember that?) last year it was 4k TV and drones. I recall that Sony had a massive presence with the former and the whir of the latter was everywhere.

Well this year said drones were firmly on the display stands, I saw none in action. I suspect not just for H&S reasons but in all honesty, since I saw my first one fly at the show in 2010, the novelty has kind of worn off. Perhaps it was also because the payload some of the “flying spiders” were carrying was of more interest; you see it was part of this year’s “big thing”: Namely AR and VR (Augmented and Virtual Reality).

 Punch the Air

The guys at Go Pro must have shouted a collective “Yesssss” as they punched the air after the realisation that VR was going to require humongous numbers of their Hero 4’s to create the 360 degree images that make VR possible. Drones, with Go Pros hung like a bunches of grapes under their bellies, with a similar number bolted on the top, like some hat King Julien would wear, where everywhere.

 

"Hello freaks! You like my VR headset, yes?!"

Also evident were “Rubric Cubes” of 6 and even a “pan-cake” arrangement of 16 Go Pros for the capture of Google Earth type images.

IMG 1208

IMG 1209

Ker-ching! for Go Pro me thinks

How these versatile little cameras have moved out of the extreme sports market and into the mainstream. Go Pro must have a bank balance to rival Apple’s!


The Future Zone hall was dominated by VR too. Most stands had stood on them a bi-goggled and head-phoned individual all in their own virtual world. To us outsiders they either looked like they were doing those Chinese stretching exercises or attempting to swot some unseen fly. I was offered the chance to enter a virtual world but declined on the basis of wanting to retain my dignity.


It was on this premise that I had a very informed and interesting conversation with a lady from the company that created the BBC’s “Home” VR spacewalk. She concurred with my position that, whilst VR requires the user to suit-up with all that dignity zapping headgear paraphernalia it would never get mainstream market acceptance and thus sales (3D home TV failed for the simple reason we had to don those dorky glasses that made us look like Buddy Holly).

 

"Ok. Where's that dam remote?"

She rightly point out though that, whilst VR will find a home in the massive gaming market, it also has great potential in simulators, such as the training of astronauts or those working in the deep-sea diving industry:

A point noted and very well-made.

(Part 2 to follow)

Iain Betson