When we first wrote about Bigscreen over a year ago it represented something we hadn’t seen before. Users were able to invite friends into private virtual rooms where they could stream content together in real-time. Not only that, but it allowed users to stream content from their desktop directly, not just from things available online. That meant you could play a game installed on your hard drive, watch videos saved on your computer, view images, work together on projects, and anything else.
Today, Bigscreen is launching what it’s billing as its “biggest update yet” with the Cinema Update. The biggest feature here is the inclusion of high-fidelity, 1080p quality, seamless, real-time streaming in a multiplayer environment. You really have to experience it to udnerstand what that means for VR streaming, but here is a quick video:
Yesterday, Darshan Shankar walked me through the update in Bigscreen. We loaded into the experience’s new Cinema environment (shown above) which simulated sitting in a huge movie theater wit 40 A.I. bots that help make sure you don’t feel creepy and alone. There were dozens of spots for us to pick from for seating and the huge 100-foot screen really was a sight to behold.
When the screen didn’t have any colors or images, the movie theater was completely and utterly pitch black. Then, as images popped onto the screen the light would bounce and dance around the walls and chairs. An explosion would send orange and yellow and red lights out to paint the setting.
My favorite new feature of this update, personally, is that now there is finally full support for seamless desktop audio streaming. Previously users had to install third-party plugins and play with the settings to get audio streaming to work well. Now, you just select an option from a menu and you’re good to go. We watched the new Ready Player One trailer in HD without any framerate loss.
While coding this update, Shankar joked with me that they had “accidentally created the world’s best streaming program” and I have trouble finding reasons to disagree. In fact, you can totally play PC games in split screen using Bigscreen too. Multiple streams, at 1080p, 30fps, all in VR, and no issues that I could see.
Here is a clean list of the update’s highlights:
- New C++ Engine brings significantly reduced CPU, GPU, and RAM usage in both Single player and Multiplayer,
- Flawless, peer-to-peer, private, and encrypted 1080p video streaming at 30fps for up to four total users,
- Native desktop audio streaming,
- Experimental support for Windows 7 PCs and NVIDIA’s “Optimus” line of VR-ready laptops,
Soon, things are going to get even better. In addition to improving the quality further, Bigscreen wants to unlock the room sizes and finally allow for more people so you can have a real, bonafide game night or watching party (the current max is 4 total per room.) Interestingly, Bigscreen appears to be doing what Oculus has taken so long to do with Rooms. For all intents and purposes, this should really be the default go-to social VR app if you want to stream any content at all.