It is an unfortunate truth of the technology that whenever anyone mentions the idea of a ‘first’ in virtual reality (VR) nowadays it often provokes more eyerolling than interest from those who have been around, or following the news scene intently for a couple of years. In many instances the ‘first’ is found ot just be a spin on something that has been done before or flat out has entirely been done before but those involved have done no research on it. You assume. As a result such claims are increasingly met with skepticism. And a “world’s-first”, complete with quote marks, is doubly so.
Nethertheless it is a “world’s-first” that is currently being undertaken on YouTube, and you probably didn’t even know about it. The project is called Raw Space and is taking place in Nokia Bell Labs’ anechoic chamber, one of the quietest rooms on Earth and formerly the quietist. Raw Space features the (quote/unquote) world’s first 360 degree real-time augmented reality (AR) livestream and is based around the music of British singer-songwriter Beatie Wolfe.
On Friday the team behind the move placed within the sound-proofed room a record player and speaker system and a 360 degree camera. Then they set the album playing, which will continue to play through and restart for seven days ending Friday 12th May. As the album plays the room changes, Wolfe appears and disappears as the tracks skip by, the scenery changes, animated visiuals dance out of the spinning vinyl disc. It is perhaps appropriately described as “A Fantasia experience” in reference to the Walt Disney film and music project of 1940 (and also it’s sequel in the year 2000) and which is best known for its represenation of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. This livestream, which can be seen below, is set to be one of several AR livestreams utilising the space.
“For Raw Space, I wanted to create the antithesis of our current streaming experience, which is somewhat compressed both sonically and creatively.” Wolfe explains. “Or rather to create what I feel streaming music can be, and really celebrate the world of the album — its artwork, arc, narrative, music — in a fully immersive and multi-sensory way, which has the effect of placing the listener at the center of this dynamic world. Launching this out of one of the world’s quietest rooms has the effect of immediately instilling a sense of ceremony into this experience, both quieting the ‘noise’ around and allowing the listener to hear the true sound of sound.”
VRFocus will bring you more news on the use of AR livestreaming at Nokia Bell Labs as it is announced.