Virtual Reality Content

Having an Oculus Rift, the easiest source of viewable (non-gaming) content is YouTube. Anecdotally, it appeared to me that the content available has been growing. I wanted a way to measure this growth. YouTube does not have tools for date range searching. But Google does. And using the “site:” operator, Google can also do domain specific searches. So I used Google to search YouTube by date, and graphed three of these search terms over time. The results are shown below.

oculus rift mindshare vr youtube chart graph stat

User Reaction Video:

Graph 1: Mindshare
While a simple search of “Oculus Rift” may produce the greatest volume of Oculus VR content, it also produces the most noise. Beside the ambient noise from YouTube’s right column recommended videos, false positives masked in gray at the bottom of the chart shown above, it also has noise from both marketing videos and media coverage videos, and as often from user demos video, like the one shown at left. I do find it noteworthy that first-time user reactions are typically a display of astonishment — before acquiring Oculus, Mark Zuckerberg’s own reaction to experiencing the Rift for the first time was, “… the coolest things I’ve ever seen in my life, and maybe ever will see.” — so much so that many find these reactions as worthy to share as the VR content itself. While this does wonders to show the product momentum and user enthusiasm, It has too much noise to provide us with any quality information on content availability and growth. So we’ll continue to refine and graph other search results, in the following charts …

oculus rift stereoscopic vr youtube chart graph stat
Stereoscopic non-Oculus:

Graph 2: Stereoscopic
Refining our search string, “stereoscopic” is a general term used for 3D content that applies to many different formats. The chart above shows all YouTube content labelled with “stereoscopic”. As this is not 3D content specific to the Oculus, it is not an accurate proxy for Rift content, but beginning with the launch of the Oculus Rift Kickstarter, it is clear that 3D content in general has accelerated.

The content at left, while true stereoscopic 3D of Shakira’s Waka Waka, performed live, it however is not compatible with the Oculus Rift, as it does not accommodate for the Rift’s “barrel distortion” required for the Rift’s optics (an innovation which is largely responsible for the Rift’s extremely wide field of view).

oculus rift 3d vr video youtube chart graph stat
Rift Specific 3D Video:

Graph 3: only Oculus Rift 3D videos
Lastly we have an Oculus Rift specific 3D content search string. While some noise exists for non-barrel-roll Oculus ready content, it is more than offset by the amount of Rift-ready content that gets cut, by the specificity of the search string. This is also the graph that most explicitly illustrates an exponential growth curve of content. At the right of the graph, content is on the verge of explosive growth. This is also a good time to note another limitation of using Google search as YouTube search proxy, methodology: While this search string results in a low-ambient-noise, Rift specific set of search results, via Google it hits a maximum of approximately 30,000 results by April 2014. Yet when the same search string is done directly in YouTube, the number is an astonishing 116,000 results. My best speculation is that this discrepancy is the result of limitations in the number of YouTube pages Google indexes on a monthly basis. If that is an accurate assumption, then these charts are conservative, by an order of magnitude.

Download Oculus Content PDF from GigantiCo I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that non-game VR content will be as popular with the Rift, if not more so, than its use as a gaming device. Part of this is personal experience — I am not a gamer, but a longtime virtual reality advocate. I don’t think I’m alone. The truth is most people are not gamers. When I say gamers, I’m referring to the immersive first-person-shooters that headsets like the Oculus Rift are presumed to be targeted at. I have written about this already from the perspective of the Facebook acquisition, but I wanted to explore this notion further, from the perspective of a user.

Long before 3D IMAX movies, there were stereoscopes. My grandmother had a pair when I was a child. She kept them with a basket full of 3D photos beside her chair in the living room. Over the years, the View-Master (shown with Oculus Rift atop page) has enjoyed a near century-long run, surviving multiple acquisitions, now a sub-brand of Mattel subsidiary Fisher-Price, will celebrate its centennial in 2019. While I’ve not been successful in running down actual year-over-year production numbers of View-Master content for this story, according to Mary Ann & Wolfgang Sell and Charley Van Pelt’s comprehensive history of View-Master, “View-Master Memories,” places View-Master content production runs into the billions. There is pent-up-demand for non-gaming 3D content in virtual tourism and virtual experiences waiting to be unleashed.

Professional Content is Coming
Anecdotally, I’ve seen VR-ready 3D video studios rapidly springing up, the likes of TotalCinema360, Jaunt, Next3D, Polygon Window Productions and others. Unlike the YouTube content that, by YouTube’s limitations, is fixed perspective, these studios’ produce content viewable in full head-tracking 360° 3D.

The adult entertainment industry has long been an early-indicator and driver of technology platform adoption. The case-study of reference as always, being the industry’s embrace of the VHS format, where in 1980 adult titles accounted for over half of all VHS titles, and where Sony refused to license it’s Betamax format for adult content and lost the format wars. Snickers aside, adult content as a technology driver cannot be ignored. Readers can do their own Google search. Safe to say, the adult entertainment industry’s embrace of the Oculus Rift is as strong as it is unreported.

Mirror Worlds and Virtual Tourism
One of the more fascinating Oculus Rift experiments I’ve seen involves hacking Google Maps. Thus far, it can only execute stills, but in time, expect this kind of implementation to go real time, full streaming, in 360°. How might Google build that, you may ask? It takes two to Tango.

Based on the trajectory shown in the charts above, online 3D content is set to soar. Most high-quality, pro-sumer grade 3D video content made today is being done by coupling a pair of GoPro Cameras. These cameras are limiting, as they are fixed-position and therefore not able to make use of the Oculus Rift’s head tracking capabilities. In order to fully capitalize on this platform, purpose-made stereoscopic camera hardware will need to make its way onto the consumer market. On Facebook’s part, they need to find room on their platform to accommodate 3D content. Improving the platform’s video search capabilities would also be a good place to start.

GigantiCo by Chris Grayson
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