Traveling to space is about to get a whole lot easier in the near future thanks to the continuing advancement of virtual reality technology. San Francisco-based SpaceVR is set to become the world’s first platform for creating live, cinematic, virtual space tourism using miniature satellites equipped with advanced VR cameras. The company has just announced that they have raised a respectable amount of seed financing led by a $1 million investment from Shanda Group as well as another $250,000 from Skywood Capital. The investments will be used to accelerate the continued development and launch of SpaceVR’s Overview 1, what they are saying will be the world’s very first virtual reality camera satellite.
SpaceVR, founded in early 2015, is based in the center of San Francisco’s emerging nano-satellite industry. The startup is looking to take advantage of the latest in miniaturized satellite technology to generate breath-taking and immersive space travel experiences that can be viewed on all existing virtual reality devices. SpaceVR’s state-of-the-art satellites, called Overview 1, will give users incredible panoramic views of Earth from space and allow them to experience the very first 360-degree video content from Low Earth Orbit. SpaceVR Founder and CEO Ryan Holmes will be introducing Overview 1 during his keynote remarks titled “VR Space Exploration” at the 2016 Silicon Valley Virtual Reality Expo, in San Jose.
“At the root of every major problem – climate change, bad education systems, war, poverty – there is an error in perspective that these things don’t affect us, that these things are separate. We built Overview 1 to change this. Opening up space tourism for everyone will provide a new perspective in how we view our world and how we process information. Astronauts who have had the opportunity to journey to outer space and experience Earth beyond its boundaries share this perspective and it has inspired them to champion a better way. We believe that this is the highest priority for humanity right now,” explained Holmes.
The tiny Overview 1 virtual reality satellite is equipped with two 4K sensors that have been paired with a 2D 360° camera and several wide field of view lenses that will capture an immersive sphere of video. The VR satellites will offer users an unprecedented view of space, and the planet Earth that until now has only been available to a handful of lucky astronauts. Currently the plan is to launch a fleet of Earth-bound Overview 1 satellites, though the company hopes to expand far beyond our planet and send their cameras throughout the solar system.
After the successful funding of their Kickstarter campaign and now this first round of investments, SpaceVR is on track to have their first demonstration Overview 1 satellite launched and operational as soon as early 2017. While the satellite and the required ground communication systems continue to be developed, the company will also be focusing on content delivery and distribution channels for their 3D orbital experiences. Although I can’t imagine the company will have much difficulty finding interest, finding the right outlet is a vital step.
You can see the SpaceVR Kickstarter video here:
While the original plan for SpaceVR and the Overview1 was to develop a camera to capture the experience aboard the International Space Station, they changed directions and decided to develop their small autonomous satellites instead. By having satellites that they control, SpaceVR won’t be dependent on the astronauts, who have limited time available, on the ISS for capturing new footage, but rather they can simply do it themselves. SpaceVR is working on the development of Overview 1 with NanoRacks, a company that specializes in helping new companies develop and launch space technology capable of being deployed from the ISS. You can learn more about SpaceVR, and sign up to pre-order a year’s worth of VR content (for only 35 bucks!) on their website. Discuss further in the SpaceVR forum over at 3DPB.com.