Virtual reality, finally, is set to become a big thing. Tech companies – from Facebook to Sony to Google – are all investing significant dollars into high end virtual reality technologies that will provide real-world type experiences in the comfort of your living room.
That future took a major step forward this morning when privately held Conde Nast, best known as the publisher of magazines such as Vogue, Vanity Fair and GQ, will begin publishing what are essentially virtual reality magazines.
Conde Nast Entertainment (CNE), the company’s film, television and video division, will unveil two original virtual reality series for the upcoming year at its Tuesday presentation before advertisers at Newfronts, an annual digital media showcase held in New York City.
The company is keeping tight-lipped on the details of the shows it will produce in conjunction with virtual reality company Jaunt VR but details have emerged. One will be in a narrative reality format, making the company the first major publisher to use the technology for serialized storytelling.
“We’re speaking to some very impressive film makers to partner with us on this venture,” said Dawn Ostroff, president of CNE. “The virtual reality space not only will allow the viewer to become more engaged, it’ll make them more immersed.”
The trend toward new media is nothing new for print publishers and Conde Nast’s digital audience has now surpassed its print audience, the company said.
The two series will air on CNE’s The Scene, a web portal launched a year ago and home to 2,500 original videos.
The Scene is available on multiple platforms such as Apple TV, Roku and its website, and CNE said it is developing smartphones apps in an effort to reach people where they are viewing most.
But the options for viewing virtual reality content are still limited, with only Samsung’s Galaxy Gear VR headset and Google’s Cardboard VR devices available. Both are only for use with smartphones.
But founder and chief executive officer of Jaunt VR, Jens Christensen, said virtual reality will be part of the mainstream smartphone experience. The content being created will also have an option to view without a virtual reality device as well.
“Imagine being on the front row of a fashion show, or at a red carpet event, that’d be very compelling to people,” he said.