Created at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) at the start of 2017, the Virtual Reality Industry Forum (VRIF) is set to announce the first draft of its industry guidelines at the IBC show, which kicks off in Amsterdam tomorrow.
Crafted to avoid gaps and incompatibility in technology developments in the very nascent VR industry, the VRIF works with a number of standards bodies (including MPEG, 3GPP, DVB and ITU) and industry stakeholders to help communicate and coordinate technology and standard development so that the industry can progress smoothly.
As Paul Higgs, chair of the guidelines working group and board member of VRIF, said in a previous interview, the VRIF "came out of discussions between the DTG [Digital TV Group] in the UK and several commercial entities, and centered on a desire to avoid fragmentation in the development of virtual reality. We have seen this happen in the past, where different entities develop different technologies or approaches and then it takes time to agree to a common, interoperable approach."
"We know there is a lot of development going on in the area of virtual reality, and we want to avoid delays in being able to deploy it -- avoid gaps between the development of technology and the availability of deployable technology." (See Sync or Sink: VRIF on VR Innovation.)
The VRIF guidelines will be shared during a session co-hosted with the DASH Industry Forum on Saturday, Sept. 16. The guidelines will primarily focus on the delivery ecosystem for 360-degree video with three degrees of freedom (3DoF).
The terms 3DoF and 6DoF are frequently used in the VR industry and refer to the degree of freedom of movement allowed or supported by the VR environment that has been created. In a nutshell, if the VR experience allows you various head movements, it offers 3DoF; while if you can also stand up, move forwards and backwards and from side-to-side without disrupting the VR experience, you have 6DoF.
Still confused? For the best explanation of the DoF concept that I have seen, take a look at this handy little video the kind folks at Lytro and their friendly engineers have created.
The guidelines to be released on Saturday will include: documentation of cross-industry interoperability points (based on ISO MPEG’s Omnidirectional MediA Format or OMAF); best practices for 360D production, especially focusing on human factors like motion sickness; and security concerns around VR streaming, including user privacy and content protection.
The goal is to get everyone across the industry involved so that developmental siloes that have plagued the development of new technologies in the past are avoided. According to Higgs, "VRIF members representing all segments of the VR industry have contributed to developing the guidelines that cover VR production, delivery and consumption aspects."
"The purpose of presenting a draft of the guidelines at IBC is to give the public a chance to review them and identify any issues, so that we can incorporate as much relevant information as possible," he said.”
Rob Koenen, president of VRIF, added, "After we have finalized the initial guidelines, we will continue our work to keep pushing the industry forward and expect to look at the next generation of immersive experiences, beyond 3DoF, such as 6DoF, interactivity, higher audio-visual quality, etc." (For more analysis on VR from Koenen, listen to a radio show on our sister site, Telco Transformation. (See Realizing Virtual Reality.)
The finalized guidelines are expected to be released at CES 2018 in early January.
— Aditya Kishore, Practice Leader, Video Transformation, Telco Transformation