Vicarious Creating Tools To Bring 2D Content Into A VR Environment

With consumer-level virtual reality just around the corner, we're seeing more and more companies pop up in this space with innovative ideas. Several of these companies are trying to make it as easy as possible to share content in the virtual world, but they all have a different vision about how to do that.

Vicarious is one of those companies. I recently had a chance to speak with J.M. Yujuico (pronounced You-wee-ko) and Alexander Chu, the co-founders of Vicarious, to learn more about the company and their vision for the platform that their company is building.

Vicarious is a startup based in San Francisco. The company is building a platform that will let creators publish any content they desire and have it available to consume in virtual reality. The founders believe that much of that content will actually be 2D images and video, and they are creating tools that will make it easy for people to share that content in creative ways on VR devices.

The Vicarious platform will consist of three components: the Vicarious Toolset, Vicarious Viewer and the Companion App.

The Vicarious Toolset will enable all sorts of creative ways to display content. Creators will be able to edit and customize these experiences from within the VR application. The platform is being designed to support many different types of content, including 2D, 180- and 360-degree video and photos, 3D objects and animations, audio, and even text. The plan is to make the platform completely source agnostic.

Yujuico and Chu believe that the biggest hurdle to creating VR content will be access to recording equipment in the early days of consumer virtual reality. Their hope is that providing the ability to share any content in a VR environment will create a wealth of content available for consumption in VR.

To view the content created for Vicarious, there will be a Vicarious Viewer application. This app will be available for GearVR and Google Cardboard, but Cardboard users will be limited to viewing only, while GearVR users will be offered more function such as customizing your own showcase for your content. The company plans to support PC-based headsets such as the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive in the future, but currently, development is focused on creating the platform and rolling out. Further support will come later.

Vicarious is also developing a Companion App. This application will run on your smartphone, not in VR, and let you edit your content page. You can add video and images from the app to your VR experience when you're out and about without a headset.

The Vicarious platform is still in its infancy. The company has not yet announced a beta release, but it expects to launch the product in the first quarter of 2016. I was told there will be some announcements about Vicarious before the end of the year.

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 Kevin Carbotte is a contributing writer for Tom's Hardware who primarily covers VR and AR hardware. He has been writing for us for more than four years.