Newport Beach-based NextVR offered a trio of updates as CES announcements last week. The first announcement was that the company is planning gradual support for full freedom of movement. The second was that the company will be streaming WWE soon. The third update was, in my opinion, the biggest of all — a resolution bump to broadcasts.
The importance of full freedom of movement cannot be understated and professional wrestling is a perfect match for NextVR’s capture system, but demos of the resolution update seen inside the higher resolution Samsung Odyssey showed just how immersive the company’s reality capture could feel.
I saw sections from a “Monster Jam” on the Fox Sports Channel in VR. The content is already on the NextVR app but the increased resolution I saw in the Odyssey isn’t available publicly just yet. It was incredible how much the improved resolution (tuned to take advantage of Odyssey’s 1440×1600 per eye display) enhanced my sense of presence.
The monster trucks popped from the background and seemed to soar through the air in slow motion, impressing me with their size and power the same way they might if I was watching the event live. At one point dirt and dust kicked up from the track and swirled in the air in intricate patterns — a bit of detail I don’t recall ever noting in a VR broadcast before. The sense of presence it produced was so powerful I found myself wishing the company had included environmental effects like wind to further enhance the feeling.
NextVR said it is exploring social broadcasts — so you can watch something like an NBA game together with a friend — and its full freedom of movement and increased resolutions should work together on headsets that can support it. So a headset like Samsung Odyssey may offer a greater sense of presence when both advances are shown together in a single broadcast.
Overall there is a big year ahead for NextVR as it works to scale to more headsets and higher quality than the startup has ever achieved before. We’ll keep you updated on the company’s roll-out as the year progresses.