Here’s a little look behind the scenes on the Samsung “Gear VR” launch; you might want to start with the nice Engadget write-up. A lot of their demos are videos you can look around in, which (it turns out) involves software from Immersive Media, a company I’ve been talking to; they’re headquartered in Western Canada near me. It turns out they have an API and you can have 3-D video in your apps, with or without the Samsung headset.

Samsung Gear VR

Immersive has been doing 3-D cameras for a decade. They were involved in Google Street View, and have participated in lots of ads and other high-glamor apps. Go grab the “im360” app for Android or iOS and have a look at what the technology can do.

So when I talked to them, I asked “So, what’s the developer story; can I wire 3D camera output into my own app?”. They said “Oh yeah, we’ll send the docs”. Turns out they have iOS and Android SDKs (I looked at the Android version, it seemed perfectly straightforward, with a “PlayerActivity”); for the desktop they’ve been shipping a Flash SDK but have HTML5 in beta.

It also turns out that since their deals so far have all been with Big Advertisers and Big Broadcasters and Big Internet Companies, they haven’t got around to having a public-facing developer page where you can actually look at all this stuff; but they’re working on it.

Some other things they’re working on are publishing-side software, so that anyone who’s got a 3D camera can feed the output to apps. And (this one tickles my fancy) a prosumer-class hand-carried 3D camera; the products so far have been, uh, bulky. Publishing is nontrivial; there’s a lot of software heavy lifting to stitch and merge the data coming off the hardware.

For me, the big application is real-time events like sports and demonstrations and concerts and wars. Often, when I’m watching something live, I’m irritated that the camera won’t point at the part of the event I want to see. You can imagine a couple of setup modes: Main feed on the big screen, peer around on your mobile “second screen”. Or, control the big screen with the mobile.

Anyhow, the Immersive developer story is not quite ready for prime time; but I think that anyone who’s looking for more intense and, well, immersive tools for multimedia publishing should watch this space. I’ll be keeping an eye on it for sure.

Disclosure · At the moment, I don’t have any business relationship of any kind with Immersive. But I do cheerlead for companies which have interesting stuff and are near my home-town.

author · Dad · software · colophon · rights

September 03, 2014
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