When it comes to new technologies, Sky have always made it their business to get in their early and offer real support to fledgling technologies. We saw it with DVR technology, HD, 3D and now, we’re seeing it with 4K and VR.
Both are new technologies which show extreme promise, but there’s no doubting one is enjoying higher levels of adoption than the other. Whilst 4K TVs are now extremely common in shops and gaining a strong foothold in homes, real VR technology remains niche, thanks to high costs for good equipment and a certain amount of knowledge.
Nevertheless, Sky have seen enough in both VR and 4K to push ahead with programming efforts for both. First up? 4K cricket on Sky Sports.
In an announcement last month, Sky made clear their intention to show Test cricket in Ultra-HD (4K) for the first time anywhere in the world this summer, when England take in South Africa. Sky Q customers in the UK and Ireland can look forward to every ball of the Test series against South Africa in crystal clear 4K, which is four times as sharp and detailed as Full-HD (1080p).
These complement their existing 4K sporting content, which includes every F1 grand prix and 124 Premier League matches in Ultra HD throughout this season and next. The cricket coverage will include enhanced Ultra HD graphics and a number of innovations in Hawkeye and enhanced statistics.
Bryan Henderson, Sky Sports Head of Cricket, commented: “With Ultra HD, customers can enjoy the four Test matches, with four times better picture quality and four times greater clarity. It is a first for Sky Sports and we can’t wait to bring you closer to the action, excitement and drama that the South Africa Test series will deliver this summer.”
Sky’s other big plan is to transform television legend David Attenborough into a virtual reality hologram, to take you behind the glass at London’s Natural History Museum in a “world-first” interactive VR experience.
The cutting-edge experience will allow users to feel as though they’re truly alongside Sir David, and be able to hold up, peer inside, tilt and look more closely at the objects, which include fossils, bones and skulls from the museum’s world-famous collection, with the use of VR controllers like Oculus Touch or the HTC Vive controllers.
It marks the first real VR experience Sky have created, having tested the waters with their Sky VR app for smartphones, which allowed anyone to view 360 degree videos, but not interact or move around in 3D space. Sky say this is the next step in their VR plan.
Sir David Attenborough commented: "I have enjoyed helping people to discover more about the natural world, and Hold The World offers people a unique opportunity: to examine rare objects, some millions of years old, up close. It represents an extraordinary new step in how people can explore and experience nature, all from the comfort of their own homes and I am delighted to be able to help users uncover some of the treasures the Natural History Museum has to offer in a thrilling new way."
Gary Davey, managing director for content at Sky, added: “Virtual reality is all about experiencing things you could only ever dream of in real life. So in this ground-breaking new experience from Sky, people can handle precious dinosaur fossils and delicate insects with a holographic Sir David Attenborough as their guide. We’re delighted to be bringing together this world-best technology and Sir David, a legend on all things nature, to make this ambitious project a reality.”
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