BBC launches VR app

BBC Taster
Neal Romanek
July 12th 2017 at 10:10AM : By Neal Romanek

The BBC Taster app will trial original BBC 360/VR content

BBC Taster has launched a new virtual reality app available for free on Android and iOS. At launch, the BBC Taster VR app includes content from BBC Three and Planet Earth II, with more from across the BBC coming soon. BBC Taster is the BBC's interactive service which attempts to do for interactivity what the iPlayer did for on-demand video. 

The app is part of BBC Taster’s remit to put the BBC’s early and experimental ideas in the hands of audiences. It will feature a range of mobile VR content, including animated VR, interactive 360° videos, dynamic binaural audio and branching narratives.

One of the first VR pieces to be published in the app is a trailer for upcoming BBC Three feature-length documentary One Deadly Weekend in America. The VR trailer is a virtual experience about gun crime, immersing you into an American street scene where clips from the documentary play around you. The One Deadly Weekend VR trailer was developed by BBC Three in collaboration with virtual reality studio Parable VR and was commissioned by BBC Three controller Damian Kavanagh, who will be taking on an additional role as editorial lead for BBC Taster, working closely with BBC Research & Development.

Other content available in the Taster app includes 360° material from Planet Earth II, which will also allow viewers to choose a path through the story.

The app will be regularly updated with new VR experiences over the coming weeks and months.

Andy Conroy, controller of BBC research and development said: “BBC Taster VR will be a fantastic showcase for some brilliant new commissions, as well as some new takes on some of the best BBC Taster VR experiences to date. It gives audiences cutting-edge mobile VR experiences from the BBC and, crucially, gives our editorial and technical teams even greater insight.”

BBC Taster VR was developed using technology from EEVO to help BBC teams publish experimental mobile VR experiences to audiences. Alongside user feedback, the app provides analytics and VR heat maps to show where users are looking while they’re in virtual reality. This will help BBC developers and editorial teams learn more from their content, helping them to refine storytelling techniques in this emerging medium.