As the Twitterverse and tech blogs understandably poked all kinds of fun at Time’s virtual reality cover with Oculus founder Palmer Luckey, Comcast this week was also talking up its financial interest in VR as the emerging market starts to seek a mainstream audience.
Gavin Teo, principal at Comcast Ventures, noted in this blog post that the VC recently participated in a $10.3 million funding round for AltSpaceVR (announced by the startup in July), joining a big group of return investors that include Tencent, Dolby Family Ventures and Promus Ventures, among others.
AltSpaceVR, which has raised $15.7 million and was founded in 2013, says its virtual reality communication software is currently available for Oculus users (for the full, immersive experience), or on Mac and PC desktops, and 3D TVs. The platform also supports a trio of input devices (mouse, Xbox 360 gamepad, or keyboard), and hand-and-body tracking systems such as Leap Motion and the Microsoft Kinect v2.
It will use the new f unds to expand its team and accelerate product development.
The product, in this case, enables users to communicate and share experiences in a 3D VR environment. “We are the only place to watch synchronized Netflix in VR with other people,” AltSpace VR proclaims in this video that shows its platform in action. “We are one of the few places where you can do a ‘Rick Roll’ in VR with other people.” Yes, indeed. Sharing is caring.
“One of the most compelling features is the ability to watch streaming video from services like YouTube, Netflix and Twitch in VR,” Teo wrote. “Imagine Game of Thrones streamed in a 2D web player in the shape of a TV screen hanging on the wall of a 3D space you are sharing with a friend on the other side of the world.”
While the VR market is predicted to explode, the question, Teo said, is what consumers will do when they put on VR head-mounted displays from Oculus, Vive, Sony, Samsung or even Google Cardboard
“Our view is that they will consume different kinds of media: games, animation, cinematic storytelling, live action sports - and they will want to do it with their friends,” he wrote.