Q: Why do we need a VR Industry Forum?
A: Virtual Reality – including the cinematic “VR360” – holds great promise, but there will only be an attractive market if content can be distributed in interoperable ways. This is true for equipment manufacturers that want to see a market and content for their devices, for content creators that want as wide a distribution as possible, for service providers that want to be able to distribute in a single format, and also for those seeking to monetize VR services, e.g. with ads. Next to interoperability, quality is crucial as well. A mediocre quality will give VR a bad rep, turning consumers away again for the next few years. The VR Industry Forum – VRIF – was established to address these very issues: interoperability and quality, and that’s what we have focused on over the last two years, by writing guidelines for establishing interoperability and encouraging good quality in production as well as distribution.
Q: How does the VR Industry Forum differ from other industry associations such as the VR/AR Association (VRARA), the VR Society and the Immersive Technology Alliance?
A: First and foremost, the VRIF has an end-to-end perspective; from the initial creative storytelling through to the human consumption. This involves a lot of moving parts that all have to work in synch for the best user experience. Other associations may focus on certain verticals such as gaming or certain sectors such as Head Mounted Displays. Or they focus on the business aspects. We are a Forum rather than an Association, meaning that we come together to exchange ideas and to seek a greater understanding of a very complex creation, delivery and consumption models – and make that work end-to-end. Our focus is probably more technical than that of the Associations, while we stop short of actually setting standards – but we do reference them.
Q: Who are the Members of the VR Industry Forum?
A: The Members are a diverse range of organizations including operators/broadcasters such as AT&T and Sky, broad technology providers such as Ericsson and Huawei, dedicated VR technology providers like Tiledmedia and Texel, industry bodies such as MovieLabs, research institutes such as Fraunhofer and IRT, academia such as Whistling Woods International. The Forum is open to anyone who supports its goal of furthering the widespread availability of high-quality audiovisual VR experiences, for the benefit of consumers.
Q: Does VR Industry Forum create standards?
A: No. VRIF Bylaws state that it is not a Standards Defining Organization but instead, must
work closely with the SDOs to help prioritize their efforts and to provide the industry with guidelines on the best practices for adopting the standards coming from the SDOs.
Q: What advantages does the VR Industry Forum bring to its members?
A: Membership in the forum allows organizations to have much greater influence with the SDOs in their task of creating standards and in advocating for their universal adoption. It also allows influence in the creation of Guidelines that will facilitate such adoption. Being part of this Forum further brings involvement in interop testing to accelerate product and solution development.
Q: What types of membership are available at the VRIF?
A: We have 3 levels of membership. The first is at the Charter level for companies who want to bring the biggest influence in the direction of this organization. Charter members can run for Board positions. The Contributor level is for organizations that want to make a difference but perhaps do not have the resources to devote to board level activities. Finally, there is the Associate level for smaller companies with revenues less than $10m per year, for academia and for not-for-profit organizations.
Q: What are the origins of the VR Industry Forum?
A: It came from the combination of 2 informal initiatives. One from DTG and Harmonic who convened a meeting at CES2016 with a handful of companies all concerned about the potential fragmentation of the emerging VR Industry. The second was started in parallel by Ericsson with a broader collaboration across the industry addressing similar concerns but initially triggered by the prospect that 5G will emerge as a great fit for VR with dramatic increases in unicast bandwidth with low latency; two essential items for the best VR experience. It started to come together at NAB2016 where Ericsson, DTG and Harmonic organized a dinner with 62 representatives from over 40 companies getting together to discuss ways in which cross industry collaboration can help cement the adoption of standards and accelerate the growth of this sector. This event was then followed by bi-weekly calls that grew the size of a “VR Interest Group” to over 200 people from 70 different organizations. At IBC 2016 a meeting was held where it was concluded that the necessary next step in this evolution was to create a formal VR Industry Forum and the Forum was bootstrapped at CES 2017.
Q: How can I apply for membership and what does it cost?
Joining the VR Industry Forum is easy:
- Review the Bylaws
- Download a member application
- Fill out the application and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Once the application has been processed, payment will be requested
- Provide payment
- Start participating!
Q: How can I subscribe to the mailing list?
Click here to subscribe to our mailing list: VRIF Mailing List