OTT platforms are constantly seeking innovative ways to enhance user engagement and offer unique experiences. The integration of Extended Reality (XR) into video content is a groundbreaking step that promises to redefine the entertainment industry. XR technology, encompassing Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and Mixed Reality (MR), offers immersive and interactive experiences, taking the viewer beyond traditional screen limitations.
As a pioneer in OTT streaming and video solutions, Accedo is working hard to empower this transformation and drive the movement forward. In October 2023, we launched the Accedo Xtend Partner Hub in an effort to accelerate the deployment of XR experiences in the media technology industry, empowering operators, broadcasters, and media companies to navigate the bursting XR ecosystem. We provide a holistic solution to launching your video service on XR platforms, with each technology vendor of our Xtend Partner Hub specializing in different aspects of producing, delivering and enhancing XR video experiences.
In this blog post, we will guide you through the emerging technology landscape and help you understand and identify the best-fitting solutions for your audience: immersive video, volumetric, 6dof vs. 3dof, avatars, metaverse, digital collectibles, x-to-earn, gamifications, and more.
We will discuss key aspects to consider for OTT platforms when looking to develop and launch XR video experiences, as well as touch on how the Xtend Partner Hub can help you get started.
Immersion in XR refers to the degree to which a user feels completely captivated and connected to the virtual environment or augmented content. It goes without saying that a high level of immersion is a desirable feature. Which fan wouldn’t like to feel side-by-side with their favorite teams or TV shows? High-quality video contributes significantly to achieving this sense of ultimate connection as it provides a more realistic representation of the virtual or augmented world. The screens of the affordable Meta Quest 3 and the upcoming Apple Vision Pro, for example, have enough resolution to show crisp videos on a projector-like virtual screen. This level of immersion enhances the user's experience and makes them feel like they are completely present in the XR environment.
When leveling up the video and visual quality, OTT platforms need to prioritize high-resolution and high frame-rate video to ensure clarity and prevent motion sickness, incorporate spatial video support for immersive experiences, and optimize streaming for bandwidth efficiency. Reducing latency is crucial for real-time interaction, and adaptive bitrate streaming is essential to maintain consistent video quality across varying internet speeds.
Accedo’s partner, Tiledmedia, is a global leader in the scalable delivery of video to consumers. Its SDK assures that every screen around the user is perfectly crisp, keeping bandwidth consumption to a minimum and maintaining good performance. This enables new interactive experiences never imagined before. The same technology is used to transmit high-resolution virtual reality video, which is segmented into small tiles. This ensures that only the area where the user is looking is broadcasted in the highest resolution. While spatial videos are uncommon today, we are convinced that this new format will be widespread with the influence of Apple and its Vision Pro. Working closely with Tiledmedia, we are making this transition smooth.
Another area where XR experiences can be used to create a sense of complete immersion is within live sports. However, in the stadium environment, we are faced with another level of complexity when it comes to delivery. Our partner Ateme can help ensure optimal quality by using its technology to broadcast different live cameras. This minimizes the delay between what fans see at the stadium and the video on their devices through low-latency video pipelines, ultimately leading to a more immersive video experience. Their expertise in video compression and delivery solutions provides better broadcasting with smooth, high-quality video and imagery.
Working with Accedo and AWS to develop in-stadium and venue experiences for live sporting events, Ateme leverages 5G to enhance XR experiences - offering high bandwidth, low latency, improved reliability, and the ability to support multi-user and immersive applications. It enables faster content delivery, responsive interactions, and new use cases, making XR more accessible and compelling.
It is not always possible to produce brand-new immersive video materials from scratch to launch an OTT XR platform. Instead, video services and streaming providers can adapt their existing content into formats suited for deploying on VR and AR devices. While they learn about how their fans engage with the content, it’s great to do small PoCs with new emerging media types to tease users about what’s coming next.
The first step is to identify which traditional content can be useful in XR technology. This might include reusing different camera angles to give users the choice of perspectives. Traditional 2D video can be broken into sizable chunks, which become easy to place in different contexts and personalized experiences for users. For example, you can have highlights of the game you are watching on a timeline and let the fans view the replays on a second virtual screen while still watching the main game. For that to work, you need a service that can automatize the highlights generation and provide the replay video just a few seconds after it happens, conveniently tagged by action, athlete, or other aspects, so that the user can filter and create the personalized experience they imagine.
This is exactly what our partner Six Floor is able to do. Their AI models not only help in sports but also in identifying news by subject or even advertisement chunks, giving us a new tool to create interactive pieces that link traditional video with immersive content.
The next step is to integrate interactive elements so that fans can participate in modeling their experience. This could involve adding clickable areas in the video that provide additional information, lead to different story paths, or offer immersive experiences. In sports, access to stats that are more than just numbers is a trend for many top leagues and federations. In immersive technologies, these stats are interactive panels that surround the video and provide context. However, we can now move these graphics into the user’s space, closer to the fan, and make them interactive. Video formats will also progressively go beyond the screen. The glass frontier between the content and the user will disappear with companies such as Quintar, which will enable the convergence of the digital and physical worlds.
Mixed Reality has been a hot topic since Quest 3 was released in October 2023. This device has high-definition color cameras and sensors that allow 3D elements to interact with real-world furniture and walls. SyncReality, another Accedo partner, precisely invented a set of responsive design tools, enabling spatial 3D content to automatically adapt to the real world - making spatial computing safe and scalable. This technology opens up huge opportunities not only for fan engagement - i.e. turning a fan’s living room into an immersive gamified environment - but also establishes new monetization models allowing sponsors to apply their brand to a fan’s space.
People often ask what the future of XR experiences holds. What’s the thing that will make immersive platforms mainstream? While we don’t know the answer to this yet, we can create the right environment to learn about the user's behavior and take it from there. This is an entirely new way of interacting with content, and we need to closely follow the data coming from user interaction. We can’t base our new immersive offering solely on gut feeling or user intentions. Launching a service as an MVP, tracking the users' behavior, and iterating the creative process is the only way to define what works and doesn't.
Data can facilitate real-time adjustments on XR platforms by enabling dynamic content adaptation based on user interactions and preferences. User engagement is analyzed in real-time to modify the virtual environment, narrative elements, or interactive features accordingly. For instance, if a user shows interest in a particular object or scenario, the platform can expand on that element, enhancing user engagement.
Data can also be used for monetization through targeted advertising, offering personalized experiences as premium services, and dynamic content adjustments for interactive and immersive advertising.
Jump is the data-specialized vendor in Xtend Partner Hub that empowers video service providers of all sizes with cutting-edge, data-driven solutions and services. With Jump, you receive real-time insights to spot and address both issues and opportunities from acquisition to engagement and churn prevention. Through user behavior analysis and environmental data, XR systems can tailor interactions, visuals, and audio to individual preferences, optimizing immersion and engagement.
In closing, Accedo’s commitment to high-quality video experiences in immersive platforms led to the launch of the Xtend Partner Hub - representing a pivotal step in the transition of the media industry into extended reality. For bold clients who appreciate the excitement of exploration, an open invitation is extended. We and our specialized partners are ready to guide you through the XR landscape. Join us where spatial computing meets the video industry.