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On stage with Paul McCartney in Jaunt's VR app

November 24, 2014 | Telepresence Options


Story and images by Adi Robertson / ISPR

Watch Paul McCartney perform in virtual reality with a new Android app

360-degree video company Jaunt is trying to turn virtual reality into a truly viable movie platform, for anyone with an Android phone and a cheap mobile headset like Google Cardboard. Today, the company released a taste of what that might look like: an immersive version of Sir Paul McCartney performing at San Francisco's Candlestick Park in August. The free app, which works on a range of Android phones, lets you watch a bombastic, pyrotechnical performance of "Live and Let Die" (seen [in the embedded video] in non-VR) from the front of the stage or right next to Paul's piano. Jaunt content VP Scott Broock says the company was invited to tape the show the day after he demoed its technology to McCartney in Los Angeles. "You could see him get it instantly," said Broock.

Though the technology has been around for several years, "Google Cardboard" has become the best-known name for simple VR goggles made of stiff paper and cheap lenses. Cardboard was introduced at Google IO early this year, and it's being used as a promotional tool by companies like Volvo, which released an app showing off the interior of its latest SUV. Jaunt's app, of course, will work with any headset that can fit an Android phone; it will be coming to the Gear VR when Samsung and Oculus release it next month, and to the more expensive, desktop computer-based Oculus Rift. Broock sees Android and mobile, rather than high-end devices like the Rift, as the immediate future of VR. "There's no demographic for a phone, right? It's not male/female, gamer/non-gamer," he says. "There's no learning curve." The Paul McCartney app doesn't require special setup, and while it's an immersive experience, it's not a long one.

That's a good thing, because while Cardboard-esque headsets are light, they're not incredibly comfortable to hold. We were able to try out the video on both an Oculus Rift DK2 and a Nexus 5 with a $25 Dodocase headset, and it's impressive with both, if you have a pair of good headphones to hear the 3D sound. A cardboard case, of course, doesn't have the field of view of the Rift; you'll see rings around your eyes, like you're looking through a pair of binoculars, and you have to keep your hands to your face the entire time. And although Jaunt's video itself is super-high resolution, most phone screens aren't, so the image you'll get is somewhat blurry. But it's something people can try right now, and Broock hopes that case companies will soon be making things that are less elaborate than the $200 Gear VR but higher-quality than the dirt-cheap Cardboard.

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