There's little doubt that virtual reality, whether it be with our smartphones or headsets connected to powerful PCs, is going to be the next big platform of consumer technology. We've heard of uses for everything from entertainment like movies and games to science and health applications. It looks like the next thing to get into VR is news, as the USA Today Network has announced it's making a VR news program. Not a show with news and updates about the topic of VR, but a common, multi-topic news program presented in VR.
Dubbed "VRtually There," USA Today owner Gannett Co. Inc. says it will be "the first branded news experience presented in VR," and debut sometime this spring. There will be segments on a variety of topics, including politics, sports, finance, and, of course, technology.
Other details are still unknown at this point, such as how often the show will air and how long episodes will be. But it's clear the USA Today Network has ambitious plans for the show and the VR medium as a whole. Niko Chauls, the network's director of applied technologies, notes that the technology "provides for a level of immersion and experiential storytelling like nothing else."
Chauls adds that the vision is one day people using "VRtually There" as their one of their daily sources of news, much like how TV, the internet, and radio act now. Another goal is "to be able to offer VR in a live streaming capacity," but that will be a ways down the road.
In a wise move, the network is planning for the show's content to be compatible with the cheapest, easiest to access VR device: Google's Cardboard. However, as more advanced headsets like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive see release, "VRtually There" will be made available for those devices as well.