HTC Vive launches program to bring the arts into virtual reality

[It’s good news that the VR industry is funding programs like the ones described in this story from SiliconANGLE to expand the applications and availability of presence-evoking technologies and experiences. For more information see the HTC Vive press release. –Matthew]

HTC Vive launches program to bring the arts into virtual reality

By Kyt Dotson
08 November 2017

Smartphone marker and virtual reality headset developer HTC Corp. today announced Vive Arts, a new multimillion-dollar global VR program designed to bring the arts into the living room.

The Vive Arts program will help cultural institutions, such as museums, documentary projects, educators and other content developers, fund and develop VR installations designed to be highly immersive and available from the comfort of the living room.

In an effort to build out VR content within the industry, HTC has been supporting and investing in the arts and culture space since the launch of the Vive headset. That vision has led HTC to forge partnerships with London’s Royal Academy of Arts, Taipei’s National Palace Museum, the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle (French National Museum of Natural History) in Paris, Washington D.C.’s Newseum and St. Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum.

These experiences will be available alongside new experiences in HTC’s Viveport virtual reality app and content distribution platform. “With the launch of Vive Arts, we are driving virtual reality’s influence in art and providing access to our world’s cultural heritage,” said Joel Breton, vice president of Vive Studios. “We are empowering artists to create, and consumers to experience and interpret, art and culture in new ways.”

The virtual reality industry has seen a huge amount of interest since the release of numerous headsets in 2016 including the HTC Vive, the Oculus Rift and the PlayStation VR, which are tethered to high-powered computers, and the Samsung Gear VR and Google Inc.’s Daydream, which are powered by mobile phones. So far, the adoption of VR has been led by extremely expensive headsets, but that is beginning to change as the Vive price tag fell to $599 and the Rift dropped to $399.

According to Allied Business Intelligence Research Inc. market research, the VR industry will reach $60 billion worldwide by 2021. However, at the moment that growth is hampered by the slow pace of content production and equally slow mass-market adoption. In better news, Sam Rosen, managing director and vice president at ABI Research, also said that the diversity in the VR market would prove to be the upshot because the market is a race, not a sprint.

With the Vive Arts program, HTC is opening up new content and new horizons for users to experience in VR, which builds on that market diversity.

The Vive Arts’ next project will be in London featuring Tate Modern’s major upcoming exhibition, Modigliani, which opens on Nov. 23. The virtual reality experience is expected to be a one-of-a-kind presentation in VR, bringing a gallery of Italian painter Amedeo Modigliani’s artwork out of the gallery and directly to viewers. The museum exhibition includes sculptures and portraits of his friends, including Pablo Picasso and Constantin Brancusi.

“We are always looking to push creative boundaries,” said Tate Modern Director Frances Morris, “and we think this will be a fantastic opportunity to give the public a different and in-depth understanding of this much-loved artist through new technology.”

The HTC Arts program follows in the footsteps of other VR content experiences developed to bring the arts and culture to virtual reality.

Last year, Google Arts & Culture launched an educational VR app available on Google Cardboard and Daydream with numerous historical sites recorded with 360-degree images from Paris to New York city – not as interactive as the Vive Arts apps intend to be, but a beginning.

Recently, Google teamed up with Discovery Communications Inc. to develop TRVLR, a 38-episode travel documentary designed to bring VR viewers to faraway places and introduce them to new people and cultures. Also this this year, Getty Images Inc. and Jaunt partnered up to build VR cinematic content and CNN began work on its own VR journalism division.


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