3-D TV Tech Finally Finds Good Use Streaming NBA Action in Virtual Reality

My first five minutes watching NextVR’s livestream of a Golden State Warriors game was average by VR standards. An entertaining way of watching basketball, but nothing special. Everything changed about 10 minutes in. By that point, I usually feel a headache coming on and want to rip the headset off. I didn’t feel that, and then I realized why: the world that NextVR creates lacks the image distortion and inaccurate scale so common in VR. It looks like the real world. What makes the experience so immersive is not what you notice, but what you don’t.

Even if you’ve seen sports in VR before, you’ve never seen anything like sports in NextVR. What makes it revolutionary isn’t how it looks, but how it’s created. Live VR produced by other broadcast platforms like Intel TrueVR and Fox Sports VR combines images captured by multiple cameras with a wide field of view. NextVR’s presentation relies on technology developed for 3-D gaming and television, which creates a far more immersive experience that could become the future of VR.

In a League of Its Own

When NextVR launched in 2009, it was developing compression technology for broadcasting 3-D content. Creating a 3-D picture requires broadcasting two images—a left-eye view and right-eye view. There’s a lot of overlap in the middle, and NextVR’s created a clever way of reducing redundancy in the two images, making 3-D video easier to transmit.