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The Massive Data Challenge of Virtual Reality

By Meg Cater | May 4, 2016

The experience of losing ourselves in a completely different reality has always enticed us humans, from prehistoric rituals with psychedelic mushrooms to modern video games.

Numerous scientific studies have shown that creative people spend more time daydreaming, their brains suspended amidst a showering network of nerve impulses.

So imagine what happens when you immerse yourself in the most advanced virtual reality technologies today. Even if you haven’t strapped on an Oculus Rift, just the thought of it probably triggers tiny fireworks in your brain.

When done right, however, virtual reality induced brain states are far more influential than a mere daydream.

“When executed perfectly VR tricks your brain into thinking that what you see is real, on both a conscious and subconscious level,” said Will Smith in an article on Wired.

That may be one reason everyone wants an angle on it.

Deloitte Global recently published a report predicting that virtual reality will have its first billion-dollar year in 2016, with about $700 million in hardware sales and the remainder from games and other VR experiences.

Along with gaming as an emerging market for VR/AR and 360° video technologies, almost every big broadcaster and news outlet is looking to produce immersive experiences like concerts and sports events.

The entertainment potential is obvious. But what about education? Like, for example, being able to step into the inner workings of a human heart or ear. Might it help with information retention and maybe even relieve some of the rote memorization that bores people out of studying science?

“This reminds me of the early days of the Internet,” said Anthony Batt in a Fast Company article. Batt is Cofounder of Wevr, a leading virtual reality content production company. “Everyone’s best interest right now is to grow the pie so VR becomes a widely adopted industry.”

But executing VR perfectly has proven difficult, even beyond the seasickness-inducing issue still being worked out in the way it’s presented to viewers. Producing high-quality virtual reality video is still the first hurdle.

One of the biggest challenges of VR video production is the sheer size of files produced, and the need to move them around during post-production and for delivery. Because VR requires multiple camera angles on the same shot, data off the cameras are astronomical already. But that’s not the whole picture.

“Part of the reason the files are so big is because of the way the 360 videos are formatted to accommodate the screens of computers and mobile devices,” said Facebook software engineer David Pio in an article on Fortune. “Think of 360 video as being a traditional rectangular image that is stretched and wrapped around an imaginary sphere, so that people can view it at different angles.”

Of course, big media files isn’t new.

The industry has seen a steady and steep curve mapping the growth of file sizes due to increasingly higher resolution imagery. From SD to HD to 2K to today, when 4K is standard (especially for truly immersive VR) and 8K is cool. Every leap in that chain actually squares in data amount. Meaning, the 4K correlation of a 10 gig file in 2K isn’t 20 gigs, it’s 100. And moving that much data efficiently enough to make commerce keep flowing is hard.

Investing in the future of internet-based transfers

The transportation network of video production is and really needs to be the Internet. That’s how we all work and communicate. But standard IP technology such as FTP and HTTP can’t handle the data amounts and distances that make up media ecosystems.

If your business is getting into VR, you are already investing in the future. Make sure your file movement methods don’t remain in the past. Signiant’s acceleration technology moves files up to 200 times faster than FTP and powers our SaaS solutions like Media Shuttle, which require no training to use and are accessible anywhere in the world via a web browser.

Give your team a reliable, secure and fast method for transferring even the largest VR files, anywhere they need to go. Also, if you are utilizing cloud object storage like Amazon S3 and Microsoft Azure, we can help move files there too.

Don’t let your creative mind be disrupted by slow and tedious file movement methods.

Immerse your work in a network that moves as fast as your neurons do.

Or, how about this? Lose yourself in your work, don’t lose your files on your network.

Maybe I’m daydreaming too much \(^.^)/