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Headset Happy Hour: The Week’s VR + AR News

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Talk Nerdy to Me: After a wild year of mixed reality, VentureBeat discusses how VR/AR success will be largely dependent on mixed reality arcades and social apps. But how do headsets become social? 5G and artificial intelligence advances are crucial for virtual happy hour.

Cash Me in VR: The New York Times describes how brands must focus on compelling VR content first and product promotion second when including mixed reality in a marketing plan. Vimeo launches 360 video, giving individual VR/360 filmmakers the ability to profit from their content. Shazam enters the AR market, using the app’s new vision recognition capabilities to “bring any marketing materials to life” through augmented reality.

Oh Snap: Speaking of Ca$h… $nap, Inc. went public last week– good news for Mr. Spiegel and those who believe Spectacles are an “augmented reality gateway drug,” but bad news for Snap’s neighbors in Venice Beach.

Truthiness: CNN follows in the steps of the Huffington Post, the New York Times and the Economist by launching its own dedicated VR journalism unit. Fox continues its VR streaming partnership with LiveLike, this time by bringing VR to professional basketball.

CNN Launches Global VR Journalism Unit + New 360-Degree Mobile Content
The Verge — James Vincent

CNN is launching CNNVR, a dedicated VR unit with correspondents in 12 cities around the world. CNN will also add more 360-degree video content to its iOS and Android apps. Broadcasters like The Huffington Post, New York Times and the Economist have already been experimenting with 360/VR content.

Vimeo Launches 360-Degree Video, Giving VR Ways to Make Money
CNET — Joan E Solsman

Facebook and YouTube want to put 360 and VR in everyone’s hands. Vimeo wants to make it something dedicated filmmakers can run with, and today added the ability to upload, watch, rent and sell 360/VR videos on Vimeo. This move makes Vimeo one of the first worldwide marketplaces for creators to sell 360-degree videos directly to viewers, and creators get 90% of the revenue.

The Future of VR is Possible — Here’s How We Enable It
TV[R]ev — Cortney Harding

My talk at the VRDC about the Four Futures of Entertainment and VR resulted in some practical tips for what exactly needs to happen to enable the fourth future of VR. The first step is the improvement of artificial intelligence (AI) as it relates to natural language processing and is key for allowing people to have real “virtual” conversations. Once you can have an actual conversation in VR, a whole new world of communication opens up.

Say Hi to Snapchat and Specs, Your Secret AR ‘Gateway Drug’
CNET — Joan E. Solsman

Who would have thought that augmented reality‘s best pitch would be puking rainbows and candy-colored camera glasses? Snap, Inc. succeeds where Google Glass failed by giving AR a cool factor.  “It’s getting people exposed to the concept of having a wearable on that’s not some crazy 5-inch-thick piece of glass in front of your face,” said Vince Cacace, the CEO of Vertebrae, a startup developing advertising formats for VR and AR.

Why the Snapchat IPO Matters to Marketers
Marketing Dive — Chantal Tode + Peter Adams

“The biggest opportunity for Snap is to own an outsized percentage of the augmented reality future. The AR space is going to experience massive growth and will be a platform unto itself,” Ophir Tanz, founder and CEO of the AI firm GumGum, told Marketing Dive in a statement. “If Snap can make its users’ interactions with the world akin to a virtual TV screen in a way that makes Snap the major AR gatekeeper, it will own mindshare and, as a result, brand dollars.”

Snap Inc. Protests Rile Venice Community on IPO Day
TV[R]ev — John Cassillo

Protests filled parts of Venice, Calif., the home of Snap Inc., on Thursday, coinciding with the company’s initial public offering. Check out videos from TV[R]ev collaborators Zach Servideo and Nick Cicero.

Virtual Reality Leads Marketers Down a Tricky Path
New York Times — Janet Morrissey

According to marketers and researchers, the key to success in VR is connecting with people emotionally and offering them an experience they wouldn’t normally have in the real world. “It’s about the adventure,” not pushing products, said a partner at Fact & Fiction.

5G’s Impact on Emerging Tech
Advertising Age — George Slefo

Lower latency is one of the things preventing AR and social VR from reaching their full potential. Mass 5G infrastructure would be a solution, allowing for enough data for seamless human to human social VR/AR interaction.

100 Demos, 50 Pitches, and a Year with AR and VR: What We’ve Learned
VentureBeat — Matt McIlwain + Daniel Li

The tech is here and it’s awesome, but still needs improvement. Companies are adopting VR/AR earlier than consumers. VR is taking off in Asia due to widespread mixed reality arcades. And the first breakthrough VR app will be social.

Shazam Updates Its Music Recognition App with New Augmented Reality Platform for Brands
VentureBeat — Paul Sawers

In 2015, Shazam announced new visual recognition capabilities, moving beyond its audio roots. Now Shazam is taking things to the next level with AR features that promise to “bring any marketing materials to life,” including advertisements, packaging, and other physical objects, through scanning mini Shazam “codes.” The unlocked content could be anything from 3D animations to games and product visualizations.

Fox Sports Invests in More VR
Multichannel News — Jeff Baumgartner

Fox Sports is partnering with LiveLike to deliver a VR experience and coverage of the multi-day Big East men’s basketball tournament, sponsored by Jeep. This follows Fox Sports and LiveLike’s VR coverage of college football, soccer and basketball games plus the Super Bowl LI.  

Here Are All the Highlights from Mobile World Congress
Business Insider

Qualcomm announced a new VR development kit and head-mounted display (HMD) developer program to facilitate VR development, Oculus cut the prices of its hardware, and Samsung announced that the Gear VR will soon get a companion controller.

The 10 Most Innovative Companies In VR/AR 2017
Fast Company — Daniel Terdiman

Snap, Google, Facebook, Nvidia, Niantic, HTC, Sony, Wevr, NexVR, and Osterhout Design Group are credited for making VR more immersive and mainstream than ever before.

Listen Closely to the Spatial Audio in Honda’s New 360 Video
Adweek — Gabriel Beltrone

Honda teamed with RPA to create a new 360 video on Facebook that uses the publisher’s new spatial audio capability. The VR experience begins differently depending on the demographics of the specific Facebook user.  

360 Degree Ad Format by Advrtas Achieves 85 Percent Ad Engagement
PR Newswire

A recent case study released by 360 degree and virtual reality industry pioneer Outlyer Technologies for its 360 degree and virtual reality ad solution Advrtas reveals that both mobile and desktop users find the new 360 degree ad format incredibly compelling – so much so that 85% who saw a 360 degree ad on mobile engaged with it.

Oculus Cuts Prices of Its Virtual Reality Gear
New York Times — Nick Wingfield

High cost is one of the biggest barriers to entry for VR adoption, so Oculus has decided to drop the price of its headset by 25%. Oculus has less control over when a breakout VR game will hit the market that makes its headset popularity soar.

Baidu Expands Augmented Reality Beyond Brand Marketing
The Drum — Danielle Long

Chinese search engine Baidu is shifting its focus away from online advertising, expanding its AR focus beyond brand marketing to the travel, architecture and healthcare industries. Baidu launched its AR Lab in January, which simply formalized the AR work the company was already doing with brands such as L’Oreal, Mercedes Benz, KFC and Lancome.

Channel 4 Backs VR Start-Up Content Studio
Campaign — Omar Oakes

Channel 4 has taken a minority stake in a new British VR start-up studio, Parable, as the broadcaster signals its interest in the sector. Parable has completed two 360-degree documentaries for The Economist with Blancpain, and are in “advanced conversations” with several major broadcasters about upcoming projects for this year.


Each week, we bring you the most relevant stories covering the business of virtual and augmented reality, which we produce with our partner Vertebrae, the native ad platform for VR/AR.