IP-based Connectivity Enables Content Creators To Offer Live VR Experiences From Challenging and Unique Locales

TVU Networks’ IP routers have proven their value at several key events

Across sports media, virtual reality is in a state of flux. Although opinions vary, lots of hard work continues to be done to evolve the experience, particularly in a live environment.

How can technology be deployed in a way that can take fans to truly immersive spaces? IP-based connectivity used in VR-production workflows allows more unique camera placement, producing far more-compelling content.

TVU Networks’ Matt McEwen: “The demand [for the VR experience] on the consumer side is still growing, as more devices support it. That will help drive it.”

For example, last spring, Samsung offered a 360-degree experience of the Congressional Cup regatta, allowing headset users on dry land to experience what it was like to be aboard one of the massive boats during the competition off Long Beach, CA. It’s not hard to imagine the immense challenges that come with pulling off a production like that, given the litany of transmission challenges alone.

TVU Networks played a key role in the live VR production, with two TVU Routers positioned as hot spots on two boats just off the Long Beach Veterans Memorial Pier. Those routers were able to send 360-degree live VR footage acquired by two Samsung 360 Round VR cameras aboard competing boats and used high-bandwidth IP connectivity to efficiently move the signal to the pier, where Samsung’s own CDN could push the images to the desired platforms.

It may sound like a stretch for a company like TVU Networks, which has built its reputation on traditional video transmission through the bonding of cellular and IP networks. However, transmitting VR – or even AR – experiences is just like transmitting any other video format live from remote locations.

“There is really no limit to what sort of IP device that can utilize TVU Router as a portable, high-speed access-point,” says Matt McEwen, VP, product management, TVU Networks. “It’s designed to give stability and increase bandwidth in a mobile situation, such as the harbor where the race was held. They could freely move around without being tethered to a cable.

“I think there are two roads a customer could go down for live VR workflow in the field using TVU,” he continues. “One is to utilize a TVU transmitter and encode and transmit an already processed VR signal from the field to a receiver for processing and delivery by a VR CDN. Or we can just provide a high-speed access point to an IP-based VR camera via TVU Router. I think there are a lot of IP-only VR devices that are available now. In both cases, our solutions provide a stable and reliable live transmission.”

Although the broader sports-media industry has generally grown more tepid in its acceptance of VR on a large scale, TVU Networks says the opportunities are plentiful and clients continue to request its services in building unique VR experiences.

“I still think it has potential,” says McEwen. “There are certain groups where it’s going to have more benefit. We’ve had some interest from customers who are trying to do live VR from sporting events. There’s definitely a place for it.

“I’m not sure how it fits into broadcast television,” he continues. “But, for an online, CDN-delivered production or promotional event, I definitely think there’s no question that it still has potential. The demand on the consumer side is still growing, as more devices support it. That will help drive it. More eyeballs on screens always make things more accepted in the marketplace.”

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