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Verizon has tapped Dreamscape Immersive to make virtual reality experiences for 5G networks.
The partnership’s goal is technological innovations that take advantage of 5G wireless networks, a new generation of cellular technology that could be 100 times faster than existing data networks under the right conditions. The content will include entertainment, games, and educational experiences.
They hope to innovate with mobile edge compute (MEC) as well as VR applications for the enterprise, public sector, education, and entertainment. Verizon’s support should be a big boost for VR in particular, as the telecom company generated $128 billion in revenues last year and it brings considerable heft to the market.
Verizon and Dreamscape Learn will form a 5G innovation lab to develop immersive VR learning experiences for various education levels and environments. And as part of the partnership, Verizon Ventures has taken an equity stake in Dreamscape.
Tami Erwin, the CEO of Verizon Business, said in a statement that Dreamscape shows that innovation on top of 5G can lead to powerful and complex VR experiences and simulations using lower-cost, tetherless VR hardware. Before the pandemic, Dreamscape operated five VR entertainment centers in Los Angeles and elsewhere, and I went through a VR experience for How to Train Your Dragon. It’s cool, involving more sensor tech than your usual home VR experience, but COVID-19 has wrought havoc for such VR location-based entertainment centers.
Walter Parkes, the CEO of Dreamscape and former head of DreamWorks Motion Pictures, said in an interview with VentureBeat that Verizon and Dreamscape Learn, a partnership between Dreamscape and Arizona State University, will work together to innovate immersive VR learning experiences for various education levels and environments.
“COVID put a big pause on location-based and really supercharged anything that had to do with more robust remote education, training, and collaborative experiences,” Parkes said. “5G can be an explosive accelerator of the sorts of things that Dreamscape has been committed to over the last year.”
To accelerate this, Dreamscape and Verizon will also form a dedicated innovation lab to incubate 5G- and MEC-enabled VR-learning applications.
Outside of the classroom, Verizon and Dreamscape will collaborate to develop and market avatar-driven synthetic training and simulation experiences for government and specialized professional learning uses. The experiences will combine Verizon’s 5G capabilities and Dreamscape’s ADEPT (Avatar Driven Educational and Practical Training) Platform, which leverages Dreamscape’s proprietary tracking and rendering technologies, to deliver vivid and life-like VR scenarios.
Dreamscape’s VR platform will combine Hollywood storytelling with proprietary full-body tracking technology to allow a level of immersion, precision and interaction never before achieved in the industry. By merging motion capture with body mapping and advanced kinematics, Dreamscape experiences allow large groups to interact with each other with ultra-low latency.
Paired with the fast speeds, ultra-low latency, and high bandwidth of Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband, which is available in parts of select cities, and 5G Edge platform, the partnership will aim to create low-lag immersive applications that unlock the power of connectivity, remote networking, and virtual collaboration.
“This is an accelerator for the business,” Parkes said. “We began as a location-based entertainment company. Our tech platform came out of Geneva, Switzerland, which features real-time full-body tracking of groups of up to six or eight or more people with lifelike avatars that are untethered. You can be an avatar inside of a virtual environment.”
He added, “We saw this as social, something that could really ignite mainstream entertainment and gaming. We all come from a background of creating content. And we saw this particular VR platform as a new toolbox.”
Los Angeles-based Dreamscape Immersive is already backed by some of the biggest names in entertainment and media –including WarnerMedia, Viacom, AMC, Steven Spielberg, and Hans Zimmer. It was started in 2017 by a group of Swiss technologists with roots in a medicine called Artanim and a mix of leaders in entertainment who came together under a collective mission to leverage VR with Hollywood storytelling.
“With Dreamscape Learn, we aim to bring extraordinarily rich and vivid educational experiences to students and learners everywhere with our first project called immersive biology, which takes place in the ‘Alien Zoo.’” The Alien Zoo was a movie project with Steven Spielberg that got shelved and was eventually converted into a VR project.
Dreamscape’s other leaders include former chief creative officer of Disney Imagineering, Bruce Vaughn; global music events producer and serial entrepreneur Kevin Wall; and global live events producer, Aaron Grosky. Swiss computer scientists Caecilia Charbonnier and Sylvain Chagué as well as entrepreneur Ronald Menzel are also part of the team.
Dreamscape is going to continue doing research and start a lab to create more experiences that can be delivered via 5G and edge computing in the coming months, Parkes said.
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