The business of virtual reality (VR) is heating up with the consumer release of headsets, which means that demand for VR content will begin to follow. To keep up with that demand and put tools in the hands of content creators and VR businesses, technology company Nokia Corporation recently announced OZO Live—a real-time VR broadcast solution designed to deliver VR experiences to audiences—and the OZO Player SDK—a software development kit and library set that allows developers to produce their own high quality 3D 360 video playback apps for a variety of platforms.
Nokia’s objective is to produce all the tools needed to fill out an ecosystem of tools and applications surrounding the Nokia OZO—Nokia’s flagship professional 3D 360-degree VR video camera. With a price tag of $45,000 USD the OZO is one of the first premier, professional VR HD-quality cameras to hit the market.
Professional VR cameras will form the vanguard for businesses tapping into the new VR industry, which International Data Corporation (IDC) predicts that the VR/AR industry will be a $162 billion market within four years. Experts, such as Oculus VR co-founder Palmer Luckey, also believe that much of that industry will be mobile VR focused; today mobile is already where the majority of media consumption (according to a report from comScore.)
The mobile VR experience is already enabled through smartphones via Google Cardboard VR (with easily built headsets) or higher priced ($60-$100) Samsung Gear VR headsets that attach to Samsung phones and small tablets. The mobile VR industry is already set to expand this year with the announcement of Google Daydream VR—with devices and headsets to match slated to start appearing late 2016 and early 2017—as well as Android-based mobile headset plans from Qualcomm, Inc. with the Snapdragon VR820.
OZO Live and the OZO Player SDK are slated for demonstration during the International Broadcasting Convention (IBC) in Amsterdam from September 9 to 14. During with the Finnish company intends to share the latest VR experiences enabled by OZO from leading industry partners including Deltatre, Elemental, EVS, The Foundry, Happy Finish, Immersiv, Motion Impossible, NeuLion, Netco and VIZRT.
With OZO Live you can experience “being there” from your couch
Many years ago, marketing for giant flat-screen TVs that take up most of a living room wall included hyperbole such as, “It’s like you’re really there!” with VR this is not at all an exaggeration when 360-degree video and audio can actually be achieved.
Put a 360-degree camera on the sidelines of a football game and suddenly anyone with a headset can be “part of the crowd” virtually right in the middle of the action from the literal comfort of their own home.
“The true power of virtual reality becomes apparent when you transport audiences from their sofa to the touchline with their favorite sports team to live the experience with immersive video and audio as though they were part of the crowd,” said Gilles Mas, International Football Managing Director at Deltatre.
In order to deliver this content to the living room, however, the industry needs to produce an entirely new type of camera (the 360-degree camera) and approach the scene with even more powerful software and equipment in order to handle the increased data throughput and workload.
OZO Live is Nokia’s answer to the broadcasting needs of 360-degree video and audio by providing a studio that can handle the multiple streams of video and audio encoded and sent to the newly unveiled OZO Player (application and SDK for playback).
“Deltatre and Nokia are investigating and developing Live VR production efficient workflows,” added Mas, “and OZO has proved itself an incredibly effective solution for capturing and delivering live events in VR. We consider this to be the future of sports broadcasting.”
OZO Player SDK: Giving developers the tools to publish and deliver VR content
The OZO Player SDK (software development kit) is Nokia’s addition to its VR ecosystem designed to allow developers and professionals to quickly publish and distribute VR content through their own apps. It is designed to work with multiple platforms and app stores including Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Gear VR.
For compatibility with other 3rd party VR apps and future VR headsets, OZO Player SDK also enables developers to encode in standard VR and audio formats enabling “effortless creation and delivery of great VR experience to a wide audience,” says Nokia.
“We created OZO to solve the technical problems associated with virtual reality so that content creators could focus their time and energy on imagination, storytelling, and immersing their audiences in this engaging new medium,” said Paul Melin, Vice President, Digital Media and Technology Licensing at Nokia Technologies.
“With the additions of OZO Live and OZO Player SDK, OZO is the only solution that can simultaneously capture and broadcast 3D 360 video and 3D audio, making it easy to publish VR content to multiple platforms and removing barriers to delivering rich, immersive VR experiences to a wider audience.”
Developers interested in the specifications and capabilities of the OZO Player SDK can read more on Nokia’s website.