Virtual Reality can be amazing, it can also be a lonely experience. Fortunately there are places like Oculus Rooms where people can meet each other while wearing a VR headset, but this is not suited for 360 video playback. That’s somewhat odd because you can enjoy a movie on a virtual tv screen in cyberspace, but it will be a “flat” video projected in a virtual room. If you want to watch VR together you will need to find a way to let several Virtual Reality headsets display the same panoramic video at the exact same moment. Synchronized VR allows multiple users in the same location to watch 360 video together, in this article we will explain how this process works and what tools you need to simultaneously watch 360 video.
Practical issues with synchronized VR
In a cinema there are many viewers but there is only one screen. The audiovisual experience is the same for each person. In order to let an audience watch VR together each individual will have to wear a Virtual Reality headset. Starting 360 video playback on multiple devices can prove to be a logistical nightmare, in order to make sure synchronized VR is possible several important steps have to be taken.
1. Simultaneously watch 360 video
In order to watch VR together you need a device that allows for 360 video playback. This is not difficult, any smartphone or tablet will suffice. However, a flat touchscreen does not display 3D video, and looking around is far from immersive. Another issue is starting one video on several devices for synchronized VR. A live transmission such as a live streaming video on Twitch would mean the video is in sync for all participants. However, the bandwidth at a venue is often limited, streaming high quality 360 video playback to multiple devices is difficult at best and often plain impossible.
2. Offline viewing
By loading the video to all devices beforehand the limitations of the internet connection are no longer an issue. Pushing the required video content to the devices can be done wirelessly through a local connection, by using a master system and a special 360 video player for groups you can install the required content to all devices.
3. Choose the right Virtual Reality headset
For great 360 video playback you will need VR headsets. At the moment we would recommend for 360 video’s Oculus Go or the Gear VR headset, a smartphone with a Cardboard VR holder is also an option. These are all mobile solutions with built-in power supply and wireless operation. You can connect over a hundred of these devices and simultaneously watch 360 video.
4. 360 video player for groups
The last part in the complete equation is the right software, by using a 360 video player for groups you can remotely start, pause and stop multiple videos for synchronized VR 360 video playback. This application can run on dedicated hardware but also on a smartphone and in a web browser.
With the right combination of hardware, software and a little bit of ingenuity you can allow a full theatre to watch 360 video together for a VR event to remember.