Recent reports would have you believe Netflix has no interest in VR, but the company’s latest Hack Day suggests otherwise.
Every few months the content streaming giant will host one of these special events in which it lets its staff use its resources to pursue their own ideas, no matter how bizarre or impossible. Produced as part of this year’s experiments was the Netflix Zone, a VR video store of sorts from the company’s Joey Cato, Marco Caldeira and Adnan Abbas that uses the HTC Vive and its Room Scale tracking.
As the video above shows, it’s a pretty neat concept; the store resembles a 90’s VHS rental outlet, with streamed movies and TV shows appearing as products on shelves that represent categories like ‘Top Picks’. Posters for Netflix original shows like House of Cards and Making a Murderer decorate the walls while other interactive items litter the floor.
Using the HTC Vive’s position-tracked controllers, the user in the clip picks up a copy of the second season of Marvel’s Daredevil, which debuted a few months back. That’s when things get really interesting.
As the user inspects the video case, the room transforms into an immersive diorama of sorts as new scenes spring up, surrounding the user in the show’s New York skyline. Brilliantly, the user tosses the video itself into a giant logo appearing in front of them, and the content starts to play on a big screen. Picking up another video case brings the diorama down. It’s a wonderfully realised piece with the potential to add a physical element to Netflix’s service. That said, there is one big problem: there’s nowhere to sit.
Don’t expect to see Netflix Zone appearing on Steam anytime soon; Hack Day experiments are exactly that, and we very rarely see anything come of them. In fact the company even designed a VR interface for one of 2014’s events, which sadly hasn’t surfaced since. What we do know, though, is that Netflix is on its way to the Google Daydream platform in some form, likely resembling the Gear VR app that launched last year.
Netflix might not start streaming VR video anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean the company has no use for the tech.