It’s been a while since the times we were seeing the first live streams on RealPlayer in the mid 90’s. Those of us over thirty will remember the early stages of the internet as a fascinating new world opening before our eyes, with unlimited information, instantaneous mail and audiovisual content that, even though it actually looked pretty bad at first, seemed to be a game changer for the coming years. And it was.

Windows Media and others became part of the spectrum, but the next big step was YouTube, born in 2005 and acquired by Google a year later hence getting huge muscle overnight. Since day one it has been leading innovation for the masses in the online video world, and that includes live streaming as the democratization of live content where no niche is small enough not to cover it.

That brings us to the present day. Now we are used to having vast amounts of TV stations, video snippets or entire programs we watch online, smartphones that are quickly becoming a first screen rather than a second. Quantity is massive, quality is fine, but our time is scarce. Therefore, everyone is after those shows that often have become events, that are truly engaging, entertaining and fulfilling. And there is no way to better get that sensation than believing you are actually there, among the audience, feeling as part of what is going on, enjoying it in first person. We are getting closer to real immersion.

360 video is the biggest advance in that direction that we can enjoy today. Although it can be displayed on a plethora of screens and devices, the newest HMDs represent the best possible way to achieve a sense of telepresence. From attending a distant relative’s wedding, to being in the front row of a concert with spatial audio, to travelling to distant lands to flying around from a bird’s eye view, the possibilities are endless.

So what is next for immersive video? 3D is already working in VOD and will be soon generalised in live too. Intelligent camera switching to have different perspectives. Photogrammetry principles applied to video to allow for free space roaming. The chance to fly like a bird or perform risky activities unharmed. Merging with VR and AR to create enhanced, multisensorial experiences that are actually better than the one people undergo onsite. And many other things we have yet to imagine, from the comfort, safety and privacy of our home.


– Sergi Marí –