Nokia last fall halted the development of its Ozo-branded virtual reality cameras and pivoted to technology licensing amid a slower-than-expected development of the VR market, but the production and workflow software that underpinned those products will live on and continue to expand.
Imeve, a startup that includes engineers and product executives involved in Nokia’s VR initiative, emerged late last year and, in January, reached a deal to take over the development and sale of the Nokia Ozo Live video-production software.
Imeve, which now has about five full-time employees and some consultants, is moving ahead with a portfolio of VR and 360-degree video solutions based on Nokia’s Ozo Audio, Ozo Deliver and Ozo Player products and technologies.
“Our focus is very much on the software,” with Nokia maintaining support for the Ozo hardware, Imeve co-founder and CEO Devon Copley said.
Its first product release, Imeve Live 2.1, supports the Nokia Ozo 360 camera.
While Imeve will continue to support that hardware, the longer-term plan is to be hardware-agnostic and integrate with a wider range of VR cameras, as well as new and emerging augmented reality hardware.
From a strategic perspective, it’s become clear VR and augmented reality pros don’t necessarily want to buy all of their software tools from the camera makers. They are moving into best-of-breed, integrated offerings that the traditional TV industry moved past a long time ago, Copley said.
Most suppliers in the VR arena aren’t selling a pipeline of products that broadcast professionals can build themselves. “That’s where we think there’s an opportunity,” he said.
Imeve, which finds itself competing with companies such as NextVR and Intel, launched its new software a few weeks ago and will be providing more detail about how it will extend support for multiple hardware platforms at the upcoming NAB Show in Las Vegas.
An area it’s eager to pursue is large-scale, multi-camera productions that need to lean heavily on the proper software and workflow engines, as well as high-end offerings that could take advantage of Imeve’s ability to deliver dual 4K stereoscopic visuals at up to 60 frames per second, along with real-time spacial audio mixing.
Though the VR market has had its ups and downs, Copley said it’s still moving in the right direction: forward.
It’s not hockey-stick growth that is changing the world overnight, he said, but the pace is strong enough to build a business around.
And though entertainment content tends to get the most attention with respect to VR and AR, other use cases, such as the enterprise, are tying into the core thesis around the need and desire for these emerging mediums, Copley said.
For now, Imeve is self-funded, but isn’t ruling out the pursuing of funding somewhere down the road.
“We want freedom to grow with this industry,” Copley said. “We think the future is very bright for this technology.”