Virtual reality came to life at NAB

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Four men in virtual reality chairs
The Dell booth showed off virtual reality with a little motion and breeze thrown in.

Virtual reality. VR. That was the hottest technology on display at the NAB Show a couple of weeks ago.

VR doesn’t have anything to do with broadcasting, not yet. But it could happen sooner that you might think. For example, Streambox exhibited real-time VR streaming at the show.

On the second day of the show, I was reminded that even though we’re taller and dressed like grown-ups, we’re all kids inside. We filed in to a large meeting room for a VR seminar. Smiling workers handed each of us an official Google Cardboard viewer. Projectors showed a few VR apps to download to our phones. We took our seats, and many of us reconfigured our Cardboards from storage to Velcro-secured viewing mode. We were ready for whatever demonstration they could throw at us. The seminar began.

About 40 minutes into the scheduled hour, there had been plenty of discussion and shared expertise, but no demonstrations. That’s when I started hearing the unmistakable sound of ripping, unfastened Velcro. One by one, we realized we would not be playing with our new toys.

(Side note: Cardboard is available for anyone to manufacture, and I had bought a cheap knock-off a couple of months earlier. The type of Cardboard they handed out, which looked like this, was very much easier to assemble and use. Highly recommended.)

If you haven’t experienced VR, get a Cardboard and try it with your smartphone. That’ll give you a good taste of what the (currently) expensive VR headsets deliver. I’m not sure exactly where VR will fit in the future of video story-telling, but I’m sure we’ll see more of it somewhere.

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