Immersive Tech Briefing: Beloved UK TV show now in VR
As a longstanding fan of the Channel 4 classic Great British Bake Off (well, a C4 classic as of last year), I’m excited that this year I have the option of getting a lot closer to the action.
Channel 4 is launching a free VR app on the Oculus Store that users can combine with their VR Oculus Rift headset to watch shows in 360 degrees.
The channel will bring much-loved shows and new shows to the platform, such as its recently commissioned VR documentary on the Grenfell Tower fire. It sounds like it’ll be a fascinating – if harrowing – way of understanding the tragedy.
With more channels investing in these ways of immersing viewers it’ll be interesting to see whether it leads to more uptake of the tech – or whether it ends up as much as a soggy bottom as 3D TV.
Getting a-head in AR
Motorbike helmets could soon start to look more like your smartphone, with Jarvish’s new X-AR helmet.
The Taiwanese start-up has upped its game, having already featured smart and connected capabilities in previous helmets, and now also including an AR heads-up display where riders can see things like weather conditions or traffic.
They can also see call notifications and music controls, and if they get lonely out on the road can chat to their smart assistant, such as Amazon’s Alexa.
As well as being good company, the smart assistant features allow riders to adjust the rear-facing camera, request and control music and a whole load of other features.
Tech-wise, this helmet is more hooked up than my car, sporting 16GB of built-in storage, which can be expanded up to 256GB with memory cards. It also has Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity so it can pair with iOS or Android phones.
With a four-hour battery life, the X-AR is expected to go on sale in early 2019 for around $1,000. I’ll be curious to see how it works as it sounds pretty cool but surely the last thing riders want is to have loads of images whizzing around in their vision.
Emirates flying high with new VR tool
When I book a seat on a plane I pretty much know what it’s going to look like, because most economy seats are pretty similar.
For anyone who flies in slightly nicer digs, though, you might want to take a look at Emirates’ new virtual reality tool.
The company is making history as the first airline to use web virtual reality on its website. It means that instead of just picking your seat with the criteria ‘window’ or ‘aisle’, you’ll be able to peruse the view of the available options and even see how cabins will look at different times of day.
The tool will be available for the First Class, Business, and Economy class cabins via the site’s 3D Seatmap and for those of us who just enjoy looking at fancy things, you can also get a glimpse of the Emirates A380’s Onboard Lounge and Shower Spa in VR – which, let’s be real, is the only way I’m ever going to get a look at them.
VR falls into place
For any fans of classic video games, you’re either going to love or hate this next story.
Iconic 80s video game Tetris has had a makeover – one that’s taken the game and put it in VR. And in space.
Tetris Effect dropped on the 34th anniversary of when the original game was first released. It’s been updated by Enhanced Games, the brains behind the popular game Rez Infinite (which is also an update, of the original Rez), and by all accounts it stole the show at E3 – the Electronic Entertainment Expo – in LA last month.
Take a look below – does it fill you with nostalgia or should they have left well alone?
Augmented reality set to be worth £8bn by 2023
The word on the street seems to be that augmented reality is tipped for big things, just as VR’s hype starts to die down a bit.
So, after the success of things like Ikea’s AR interior design app and the runaway success of Pokémon Go, it’s not surprising that the sector is forecast to make some serious dollar.
The figures are starting to come in to back this prediction up, with a new report from MarketsandMarkets predicting the sector will be worth a cool £8bn by 2023, driven by retailers getting on the bandwagon in a big way.
The report, snappily entitled ‘Augmented Reality in Retail Market by Offering (Hardware and Software), Device Type (Head-Mounted, Smart AR Mirror), Application (Try-On Solution, Planning & Designing), Retail Type (Furniture, Beauty & Cosmetics), and Geography – Global Forecast to 2023’, says retailers are using the tech to bring users a ‘try before you buy’ option.
This means that you could try on your next outfit in a virtual dressing room or test out how make-up will look on you virtually.
The report also reckons that advertising will see some big things from AR over the next five years, as the tech is the perfect medium for companies to create a better emotional connection with their customers.