DIGITAL MEDIA COMPANIES ARE EXPERIMENTING WITH VR: New virtual-reality software and content will fuel strong demand for virtual-reality devices. VR headset shipments will top 26 million by the end of 2020 (see chart, below). That represents a compound annual growth rate or CAGR of 99% between 2015 and 2020, according to BI Intelligence estimates.

Here’s a rundown of some of VR’s biggest announcements:

YouTube is paving the way for mainstream VR content distribution by adding support for 360-degree videos. Viewers can orient the direction of view as the camera moves through the scene. Playback is only supported on desktop (via Chrome) and on Android’s YouTube app at the moment, but it’s easy to imagine playback being extended to consumer VR headsets once these devices launch. Transmitting 360-degree video over the internet is quite challenging. 360-degree videos demand as much as five times the bandwidth of standard YouTube videos, Gizmodo points out, but YouTube’s expertise in video compression and delivery will go a long way to solve this problem.Screen Shot 2015 03 19 at 1.50.40 PM (2)
Google is developing a VR-device version of the Android operating system, the The Wall Street Journal reports. Just like Android for tablets and smartphones, Google will allow hardware VR-headset-makers to use the operating system for free. “Android VR” could serve as the foundation for a new class of VR games, applications, and content.
Facebook-owned Oculus debuted its first VR movie from its VR-film studio Story Studio at the Sundance Film Festival, according to the Guardian. The film demonstrates how filmmakers can use VR as a canvas for interactive movies.
VR was the standout trend at this years Mobile World Congress, as reported in our MWC highlights.  Several hardware makers announced new VR headsets, including HTC and Samsung. Content producers touted VR as a major platform for media distribution. “The most exciting evolution in the content space is going to be VR,” 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment executive Brendan Handler said while speaking at the conference.

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