First VR Industry Guidelines Coming at CES

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One year after announcing its launch at the same venue, the Virtual Reality Industry Forum (VRIF) will be laying out its first set of industry guidelines for VR at CES 2018. The industry organization announced today that it will be conducting a two-hour master class at the show, taking attendees through the guidelines it has developed.

The VRIF is not a standards body itself. Instead, it has been set up to help facilitate coordination between the various standards bodies (such as W3C, MPEG, ITU, DVB, 3GPP, etc.), which do the heavy lifting when it comes to developing technology standards. The goal of the VRIF is to make sure that these efforts, aimed at different stakeholders along the value chain, are compatible with each other so that bottlenecks and challenges that have developed with earlier technologies do not stifle VR’s growth and adoption. (See Sync or Sink: VRIF on VR Innovation and Realizing Virtual Reality.)

This opening set of guidelines will be focused on 360-degree (360D) video applications with three degrees of freedom (3DoF). According to the forum, these include:

  • Documentation of cross-industry interoperability points, based on ISO MPEG’s Omnidirectional Media Format (OMAF)
  • Best industry practices for production of VR360 content, with an emphasis on human factors such as motion sickness
  • Security considerations for VR360 streaming, including user privacy and content protection

In the coming year, the forum will be adding to these guidelines with 6DoF, live VR services and support for High Dynamic Range (HDR) already planned. The VRIF is also encouraging members to submit more areas for the organization to target.

The VRIF has grown from 28 members at launch to more than 40 today. This includes a variety of players from different parts of the value chain, such as Fraunhofer, Qualcomm, Ericsson, Intel, Irdeto, Sky, TNO, Greenlight Insights among others. In fact, Fraunhofer and Qualcomm will be demonstrating their VR products as part of the session.

While excitement and interest in VR continue to be high, the real challenges that the application faces have resulted in a somewhat more sober approach to the technology. Other flavors of Immersive Media Experiences (IME), particularly mobile augmented reality (AR), are now seen as being the faster-growing type of applications. The cost and weight of headsets, issues around visual quality, the high bandwidth requirements for VR and concerns about latency and motion sickness have held back widespread adoption.

Instead, the launch of mobile AR platforms such as ARKit from Apple, Camera Effects from Facebook and ARCore from Google are helping drive adoption and usage of mobile AR by consumers today.

In the enterprise as well, the preference for AR apps developed for lighter and cheaper devices, such as the Microsoft HoloLens, instead of headsets appears to be growing. Enterprises are starting to look at IME apps for training and manufacturing and maintenance guidance, from building big airplanes to training fast-food workers. (See AREA’s Sage Advises Augmented Reality.)

Still, the incredibly rich and truly immersive nature of VR is likely to help sustain industry interest, even if it does take time to enable headset adoption as technology improves, gear gets less expensive and headsets become lighter.

For those interested and attending CES, the guidelines master class will be held during on January 8, 2-4 p.m., at the Hilton’s Embassy Suites near the Las Vegas Convention Center.

— Aditya Kishore, Practice Leader, Video Transformation, Telco Transformation

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