Jaunt CEO: Cinema will adapt easily to Samsung’s virtual reality headset

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If you’re eager to experience virtual reality but don’t want to wait for Facebook’s Oculus Rift, you will be able to get a head start with the Samsung Gear VR headset that will be released this fall. Oculus was a major partner in the device’s creation and will be among the companies involved in the first wave of applications that will go live.

It turns out that cinematic virtual reality will be one of the easiest experiences to adapt to a mobile phone, and companies building movie viewing platforms for Oculus are jumping on board. Jaunt, a Palo Alto startup that makes software and 360 degree cameras for creating virtual reality films, is preparing an application for Gear VR. It will allow users to access Jaunt’s original content library, which features videos that are both visually and audibly a full 360 degrees.

The Jaunt camera. Photo by Signe Brewster.

The Jaunt camera. Photo by Signe Brewster.

“I think there will be some people that consume Jaunt VR using the Oculus Rift … and then there will be a lot of others consuming it on mobile,” Jaunt CEO Jens Christensen said in an interview. “That doesn’t really matter to us. The player should play equally well on a PC-based platform as it would on a mobile-based.”

That’s thanks in part to the Gear VR-compatible Galaxy Note 4’s 2560 x 1440 resolution screen which, while it has A lower resolution than the screen planned for the final version of Oculus Rift, is more than enough to trick the brain into believing what it is seeing is real. But it also has to do with the relatively small amount of processing power needed to play a video. You can easily watch YouTube videos and even TV on a phone because the heavy computing is done in advance. You don’t need an Xbox-caliber machine to have a high-quality experience.

“If you have a headset plugged into a high powered PC or some other console, then you would have more processing power. That’s important for a lot of applications, but it’s less important for a cinematic VR viewer,” Christensen said. “We feel the consumer is giving up very little and gaining a lot by being untethered.”

Jaunt CEO Jens Christensen, CTO Arthur van Hoff and vice president of engineering Tom Annau. Photo by Signe Brewster.

Jaunt CEO Jens Christensen, CTO Arthur van Hoff and vice president of engineering Tom Annau. Photo by Signe Brewster.

While many of us do it anyway, it’s generally not the most comfortable or healthy choice to stare at a small screen for hours at a time. Jaunt gets that. It’s general practice will be to produce shorter films–maybe 10 minutes–that are suited specifically to virtual reality. Shorter films are also suited to times when you’d have a mobile device on you–say a plane or a train–when lugging around a corded Oculus Rift isn’t exactly feasible.

Christensen wouldn’t say which films will be the first available on Gear VR. Jaunt will focus on offering a group of high-quality movies and then add more over time.

“We think VR really is the next platform beyond mobile,” Christensen said. “It’s another extremely great validation point that the platform manufacturers are showing a real commitment to VR.”

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