Virtual reality and 360° video may provide the “best seat in the house” but it will be a fail for live sports if the experience of almost being there can’t be shared. While multiple live streaming VR experiments are taking place, from the UEFA Euros to the Rio Olympics, developers are frantically trying to solve the issue of connecting the experience socially among fans. NextVR, arguably the leading producer of live VR, is on the verge of announcing a partnership with a social media platform.
“There is a prevailing view that VR is isolating but sports viewing is often shared,” says Dave Cole, co-founder, NextVR. “We have a partnership with a social communications platform which will be our first foray into bringing communication with peers and friends into the virtual space.”
The product is in beta test and primed to be announced ahead of a “marquee event late summer” by early September. It is likely that the initial form of social interaction will be via avatar.
“We plan to integrate APIs from gaming platforms like the PS4 into the the NextVR platform,” says Cole. “It makes more sense for users to create one avatar and have the ability to port that to our platform, or other virtual spaces, than to have start from scratch each time. One idea is for users to invite friends inside a virtual lobby where they can assemble and share commentary on the experience.”
Connecting friends and live experiences through VR is the long term goal of Facebook founder Mark Zukerberg. Facebook’s Social VR team has demonstrated how “animated mannequins” of users/friends might look when augmented with a live view using Oculus Rift.
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