Each year, the National Association of Broadcasters explores how to redefine the traditional practices of broadcasting and what industries will elevate broadcasting to the next level.

Though VR and AR was not a part of this next evolution of broadcasting, content creators are exploring immersive content.

Last year, the convention displayed how VR was entering the broadcasting and streaming sector. Companies were showing off new immersive media experiences and different ways for filmmakers to integrate immersive soundscapes with 360-degree video into a single experience. The idea was to one day be able to offer immersive live stream broadcasts that could range from the heart of a music festival to the frontlines of a sports match.

With bottom lines being lowered and the technology being spread more and more into the general public, this year’s NAB saw efforts to integrate VR/AR and immersive broadcasting from an option in media consumption to becoming a universal application to the consumption of media. VR/AR has moved to becoming more of an integrated function of daily media consumption.

Companies like Blueprint Reality Inc., eyecandylab, and Binary Bubbles, Inc. all have showcased technologies which take VR/AR and put the technology into the hands of everyday people – to create, interact with, or learn from. Others, like Amibidio and HumanEyes Technologies Ltd. furthered the immersive technologies available for creating and experiencing content.

Essentially creating AR representations of an imaginary friend, Binary Bubbles demoed “Virtual Buddy,” an A.I. driven, reality-aware platform in which users can create and have a virtual friend that adapts and learns from the user to become more and more compatible- eventually becoming an integral part of the user's life. The A.I. can text, post to social media, and otherwise interact with the user.

Eyecandylabs is bringing AR data visualization and interaction to broadcasting. Augmen.tv is a service produced and designed by the German firm which operates like a camera function on any smartphone. The app uses the camera to register and read the video display. AR visualizations are then broadcasted into reality on the phone screen, accenting on-screen displays with relevant information. 

Blueprint Reality Inc. released an SDK to amateur and experienced programmers, students, and streamers to use VR in their streams, arcade games, or in just creating simple immersive experiences. The SDK is compatible with a large number of commonly used content creation programs and tools in the broadcaster's toolkit. The company is looking to streamline the VR content creation process for all types of broadcasters with different levels of experience that would be interested in creating immersive content. 

NAB 2018 was all about making immersive content accessible, personally immersive for the consumer, and inexpensive. The expanding and maturing XR industry is beginning to deliver products that anybody can use to experience and create. Consumer adoption starts with the adoption of content creators. If immersive content is going to become a mainstay in the consumer household, it will need a diverse variety of quality content to support it.