It’s no secret that Sky have been interested in VR (virtual reality) for a long time now. Since the company invested in Jaunt, an upstart VR content provider in 2013, the pay-TV giant have been actively investigating the potential for VR in home entertainment.
Now, with VR rapidly growing in popularity and public awareness, the company have launched a dedicated VR application for smartphones – Sky VR. The app, which is available now to download for free, showcases a range of immersive, 360-deegree videos from Sky. On top of that, it also features the best VR content from Sky’s partners, including Star Wars: Red Carpet, Anthony Joshua: Becoming World Champion and clips from Disney’s The Jungle Book. All you need is a Google Cardboard headset and you’re ready to go.
But what is VR, and why does Sky’s push into it matter? Read on to find out.
VR: What you need to know.
VR, or Virtual Reality, is not a new concept. Indeed, the sci-fi writers of the past have long talked up a future where the digital is almost indistinguishable from the real. Indeed, as recently as the 1980s there were efforts in VR coming from the likes of Nintendo, as well as other major players. However, because the technology wasn’t quite ready, VR never truly shone.
Now, thanks to huge leaps in screen and processor technology, VR is back in a big way. The most basic VR experiences allow you to look around a space in 3D, whether that’s an art gallery, a football match or the view as you jump from a plane.
More complex VR experiences typically revolve around gaming, and often require dedicated high-end PCs in order to run. VR headsets from Facebook owned Oculus and HTC have meant that you can now walk around incredibly realistic environments and interact with objects within them as you would in real life.
Many are suggesting that virtual reality content is the next step in entertainment, allowing us to feel as though we’re truly there. Current VR experiences are split into two camps; those you can experience on a phone with a Google Cardboard headset (like Sky VR) and those which require dedicated hardware (like Oculus Rift or HTC Vive).
Why does Sky’s commitment to VR matter?
Sky has consistently placed itself at the very forefront of consumer technology, pioneering things like on-demand content, pausing live TV and 3D TV. Though 3D has proven to be something of a non-starter in regards to how we watch TV, VR has a much greater buzz about it than almost anything that’s come before.
By launching a dedicated VR app, Sky are preparing themselves for the next generation of home entertainment at a time when console manufacturers like Microsoft and Sony are preparing their own VR headsets for gaming.
Sky customer services has been awash with customers wondering when Sky would get in the game, as it were, and though it’s early days for Sky and VR, the signs are promising. Their first round of content was created in conjunction with Google, but Sky have been spotted recording a range of sporting events in VR.
So, in the future, if you’re enjoying a football game in Sky sports from the vantage point of the stands, you’ll know it all began with Sky VR.