Mobile World Congress: VR just got serious and why you should be paying attention

Major companies are giving VR its biggest push yet

If you haven't been paying much attention to virtual reality, now might be a good time to start. In a series of announcements at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week, some of the biggest names in smartphones, consumer electronics and social media have given the technology a major boost.

It's too early to tell whether the new cameras, smartphones, goggles and social media tools are enough to take the technology from video toy to big business, but together they make up the most serious attempt yet to do so.

At one end are new 360-degree cameras from Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics. These are vital for capturing the all-around images required for virtual reality.

160223 lg 1 Martyn Williams

LG's 360 camera on display at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Feb. 22, 2016.

Software in smartphones from the two companies will make it easier to capture, record and share 360-degree video and LG will soon launch a VR headset to compete with Samsung's $99 Gear VR device.

Samsung said it would give Gear VR devices to people who preorder its Galaxy S7 and Alcatel, a brand of China's TCL, is shipping its new Idol handset in a box that transforms into a VR headset.

160224 vr 2 Martyn Williams

An attendee to Mobile World Congress in Barcelona tries out a virtual reality headset on Feb. 23, 2016.

And online, Facebook and YouTube recently started supporting 360-degree video, giving consumers an easy way to distribute footage.

For Facebook, that's just the start. Speaking in Barcelona, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he believes VR is the next big social platform, and has teams working on new VR apps for the site.

160220 facebook Facebook

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg walks past Mobile World Congress attendees watching a virtual reality presentation in Barcelona on Feb. 21, 2016.

He's enthusiastic about VR because he believes it will bring people together like no other technology can.

"VR is the next platform, where anyone can create and experience anything they want," said Zuckerberg. "Pretty soon, we’re going to live in a world where everyone has the power to share and experience whole scenes as if you’re just right there in person."

Virtual reality technology captures images from at least two cameras and stitches them together. In the case of dual cameras, each has a 180-degree fisheye lens.

160223 vr 10 Martyn Williams

Two fisheye lenses help Samsung's Gear 360 camera capture an all round image

When joined, the result is an image that contains all directions -- sideways, up and down. Imagine the image as a sphere, and you're on the inside.

With a VR headset, you can look around the picture of video as if you were there, while on a 2D screen users can scroll around with a cursor.

Mark Zuckerberg talked about capturing the first steps of his new baby girl with virtual reality. Such an image or video would simultaneously capture not just the steps but also the faces of those watching.

The arrival of low-cost VR headsets also highlights a divergence that's emerging in the market.

160224 vr 4 Martyn Williams

An attendee to Mobile World Congress in Barcelona tries out an HTC Vive virtual reality headset on Feb. 23, 2016.

For the last several years, a lot of the hype around VR has been about gaming. In that market HTC, Sony and Oculus, which was acquired by Facebook, have VR headsets for serious gamers that pack better screens and audio for a more immersive experience. Two aren't priced yet but the HTC Vive will cost $799.

So consumers can initially expect two very different virtual reality experiences depending on if they go the serious gamer route or casual user route.

Join the CMO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Supporting Association

Blog Posts

Is AI on course to take over human creativity?

Computers and artificial intelligence have come along at an exponential rate over the past few decades, from being regarded as oversized adding machines to the point where they have played integral roles in some legitimately creative endeavours.

Jason Dooris

CEO and founder, Atomic 212

Are you leading technology changes or is technology leading you?

In a recent conversation with a chief technology officer, he asserted all digital technology changes in his organisation were being led by IT and not by marketing. It made me wonder: How long a marketing function like this could survive?

Jean-Luc Ambrosi

Author, marketer

Disruption Down Under – What’s Amazon’s real competitive advantage?

Savvy shoppers wait in anticipation, while Australian retailers are gearing up for the onslaught. Amazon’s arrival is imminent.

Thanks for picking this up. We are always happy to add richness to our products and in turn the lives of our followers and fans.

Fitbit Middle East

​Fitbit announces new virtual race platform to enhance customer experience

Read more

Thanks for a very interesting article. B2B marketing seems tricky. I think that marketing plays a vital part - it can build the brand and...

Aaren

From tactical overhead to strategic growth driver: B2B marketing in the digital age

Read more

meanwhile loads of people with digital skills are not finding work or getting an opportunity to be hired?? Double standards perhaps.

Graduate dying on centrelink

Report reveals Australia faces digital skills shortage

Read more

These laws are in one way or other giving businesses to VPN service providers & other cyber utilities. Just read PureVPN claiming 37%...

Paige Hudson

Getting prepared for mandatory data breach reporting

Read more

Great Post.Thanks for sharing such an informative article.I have worked with Ally Digital Media and it has a very good service which is b...

Utkarsh Kansara

Predictions: 17 digital marketing trends for 2017

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in