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Marcus Graham: Looking back on 10 years of Twitch’s experiment with livestreaming

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Marcus

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Twitch has generated more than 67 billion hours of live stream viewership since 2011, or enough for every person on Earth to watch over eight hours of video each. And one of the people who has been there for most of the time is Marcus “djWHEAT” Graham, head of creator development at Twitch.

Graham’s job is to build programs that amplify and invest in the creators at Twitch. He has been at Twitch since near the beginning, as he was employee No. 19. And he has watched Twitch grow through the years, beyond the $970 million acquisition of Twitch by Amazon in 2014, and into the heady days of 2021. I talked to him about the evolution of Twitch, particularly as it changed from Justin.tv to Twitch when game livestreaming took off.

Now, at any given moment, there are 2.5 million people tuning into Twitch. On average, Twitch gets 30 million daily visitors, up dramatically from 17.5 million at the start of 2020, before the pandemic. It turns out that people needed social contact during lockdown, and the Twitch community watched over one trillion minutes in 2020, up from 600 billion minutes in 2019.

Now there are more people doing what Graham did for much of his career. Over seven million unique creators are streaming every month. I talked to him about the past decade, on how Twitch has grown beyond games, how people have created brand new careers that never existed before, and how we are on the road to creating the Leisure Economy, where everybody will one day get paid to play games.

Twitch has grown massively — 2020 had more than 86 times the viewership of 2011, and every month in 2021 thus far has surpassed any months in 2020 or prior. Behind these hours watched is a massive community of creators — with over 26 million channels going live in 2020 alone.

Here’s an edited transcript of our interview.

The tenth anniversary

Above: Marcus “djWHEAT” Graham is head of creator development at Twitch.

GamesBeat: What does the tenth anniversary make you think about? How did you first get involved with Twitch? What was it like when you joined?

Marcus Graham: There’s a lot to talk about over 10 years. I joined in October of 2011. I’m coming up on my 10 years here. I was the 19th employee. I came as a broadcaster. I was a streamer on Justin.tv as it made the transition to Twitch. I became a Twitch creator, Twitch broadcaster. At the time I was doing an incredible amount of work in esports. When I originally joined Twitch, that was a lot of my focus. At the very beginning of Twitch we saw a lot of growth and activity around the world of esports. And so there was a lot of effort to drive more tournaments, more players, to the platform.

I was very excited. I was joining a group of individuals that were incredibly passionate about the idea of live streaming, about the idea of esports, about gaming in general. And so for me it felt very much like home. I feel like every employee that was starting around that time just loved what they were seeing and what we were watching. It was a very easy place to feel like I belonged and fit in.

GamesBeat: You got used to the idea of streaming before Twitch was a thing, then. Before game streaming was the obvious application.

Graham: My story is probably a little unique in that I first started streaming back in 1999, when it was audio only. We were using internet radio, and then we were using IRC as our chat client. All the way back to 1999 and the early 2000s, I got into this idea of having a live feedback loop and building community through interaction, which is essentially something that I chased for many years, and it was Twitch that delivered on the package as a product. It was everything, from a creator perspective, that I wanted. The ability to broadcast my videos globally, but then also having the aspect of chat, which fueled the community interaction.

So yes, I felt like I was joining something that I was waiting almost 10 years of my life to finally exist. It was incredibly exciting to be at the forefront of the development and the growth of live streaming on the internet.

The early days

GamesBeat: What did you notice was catching on back then? Whether it was things people enjoyed or that drew bigger audiences.

Graham: Back in the early days, in 2011 and 2012, believe it or not, most of the growth was being driven by esports and PC gaming. We saw a lot of that. We saw what you see now in terms of the big weekend tournaments. Maybe it was a StarCraft II event, or the start of the League of Legends championship series. There were a lot of fighting game organizations bringing their weekly tournaments online and doing larger weekend events. I remember that was always the exciting thing every weekend early. What esports are on this week? How many people will be watching it? This is the first time we’re seeing a Halo championship on Twitch! There was a lot of growth and interest initially driven by esports.

One of the interesting things, and I guess this is an aside, that I look back on now and reflect on over the last 10 years–one thing we can certainly say that’s helped with the growth, especially for the variety of creators we see on Twitch, is the evolution of technology. Back in the early 2011 and 2012 days, we didn’t have as many console streamers. The reason why was because there wasn’t a whole lot of technology and tools that were easily available, that were affordable, that made it easy to capture a PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360. Over the years, around 2014-2015, that started seeing the accessibility of technology improve, and we started seeing that influx of–it didn’t matter if you wanted to play on PC or play on PlayStation or Xbox or Switch. It was all something you could do.

So it was driven very heavily early on by esports and by people wanting to game primarily on PC, because it was easier to do it with the technology. But over the years we started to see more and more of the content diversity start to happen.

twitch Anna Maja

Above: Anna-Maja Kazarian livestreams chess on Twitch.

Image Credit: Twitch

GamesBeat: Did you feel that Twitch turned a corner somewhere to snowball into its current success?

Graham: There’s quite a few areas that immediately come to mind. First and foremost, one of the biggest turning points was the fact that when Twitch launched, it had a partnership program. It was the first time that anyone in live streaming, from a business perspective, was able to say, “We can pay you as creators, as partners, on Twitch.” Right now that’s a very common thing. A lot of people stream because they want to build community or they hope to supplement their income or they want to go full time. But back then, in 2010 or 2011, this was a relatively new thing that was being offered to live streaming creators. The idea of being able to be a partner and earn ad revenue and earn subscription and have more tools to be able to help build that community and be supported by a community, that was one of the biggest turning points, when I look back on it.

It took what was a dream for many and turned it into a reality. Suddenly, because I was able to be a partner, because I was able to monetize on my content, it turned that dream into being able to create a business. That was a large turning point for Twitch.

The other thing that comes to mind is the idea of just having this immediate feedback loop that’s happening with your community. Being able to fire up the stream and say, “What are we going to play today?” and seeing 30 games fired off in the chat. “Okay, let’s vote on what game we play.” The ability to have this two-way dialogue between the streamer and the community and the audience, and being able to incorporate that into the content itself, this was fairly new to the medium overall.

While you might see it in other areas now, there’s no doubt that one of the places that has excelled and continued to build the right tools for creators to be able to amplify these things is Twitch. That has certainly evolved a lot over time.

The Leisure Economy

GamesBeat: One of the themes I like a lot is what I call the leisure economy, where people get paid to play games. This becomes the livelihood of a long tail. More and more people can say they get paid for their work in games. What’s interesting here I guess is so many people are creating brand new careers that didn’t exist before. I don’t know if that’s what you saw happening, that people were inventing themselves, inventing their jobs, and running with it.

Graham: There’s absolutely truth to that. Again, suddenly the ability of–I’m doing this as a hobby, and man it would be great if I could get paid for the work I’m doing. That began in 2011, and it’s exponentially evolved over time. Whether that is just being able to earn revenue as a partner, through subscriptions or whatever, through the ways that the game industry now interacts with Twitch creators and works with creators, whether it’s from a marketing perspective or whether it’s, “I know this creator loves the Halo franchise, let’s get them involved with our launch plans on Twitch,” we’re seeing all sorts of different opportunities pop up, and they’ve been popping up over 10 years.

twitch Raquel

Above: Raquel Lily livestreams music on Twitch.

Image Credit: Twitch

From the job perspective, the ecosystem that has been created doesn’t stop at the creator. 10 years ago the idea of saying, “Yes, I make a living creating emotes for Twitch broadcasters,” that was nonexistent. But as you saw the need for more creators that needed emotes and wanted to change their emotes on a monthly or quarterly basis, that was something that was introduced in the Twitch ecosystem. Those who build technology for streamers was a part that was introduced in the ecosystem.

I don’t think it was limited just to the creator or broadcaster. In reality, as Twitch saw growth in this area, and as it expanded to other areas, whether that was in creative or in just chatting or travel streams, we started to see other jobs open up. Emote artists is one of them. Musicians is another one. Being a full time content creator, whether you’re a gamer or you do travel streams or you create talk shows, suddenly all of these became possible. There’s absolutely then a giant shift in the things you can do to make a living, the way that the ecosystem brings new jobs, new opportunities, in areas that, 10 years ago, we were not necessarily predicting that was going to happen.

Superstar life

GamesBeat: It then became more interesting to see all the superstars in this space, people getting enormous numbers of followers and becoming rich from this. Creating the dream for everybody else to chase.

Graham: When I look at that through the lens of the last 10 years, one of the interesting things to me is–you look at how many superstars find success on a yearly basis. There are quite a few. We’re constantly learning about these new creators who are reaching new numbers or hitting subscriber goals, whether it’s in the U.S. or the global community that exists on Twitch.

What’s interesting about that is that first five years–we probably now see more superstars, in the course of a year, find success on Twitch, find that community and start building that audience, than we had in the first five years of Twitch. This is something that, through growth and exposure and more different types of content that people can do–I think we’ve seen this exponentially climb. What was surprising back then, between 2011 and 2015, is now not as surprising as we see more and more individuals finding that level of success. Essentially making a living off of content creation on Twitch.

kristian segerstrale

Above: Kristian Segerstrale (left) of Super Evil Megacorp with Twitch’s Marcus Graham and Bo Daly of Super Evil in 2013.

Image Credit: Dean Takahashi

GamesBeat: What do you think about the ratio of creators to viewers or spectators? I forget where the numbers are now, but it’s a small percentage of people who take that step to be creators. Why do you think that number doesn’t dramatically go up?

Graham: I obviously can’t speak for every single creator or every viewer who’s tried to be a creator. Certainly streaming has gotten easier over time through software, hardware, and tools that are available on Twitch. That’s helped to see new creators come in.

I hear this question, though, and it’s not much different from saying, “A lot of people watch movies, so why don’t more people make movies?” Looking at Twitch as what I think of it as, the future of entertainment, an entertainment that is more intimate, that builds more around the passion and engaging with the community, engaging with an audience–that’s a form of entertainment that I think people enjoy getting into.

It’s also not necessarily a form of entertainment that every single person who actively participates says, “You know what, I’m going to stream.” That’s been one of the interesting things to see over time. There are a lot of people that try to stream, but aren’t necessarily looking to be the next Pokimane, the next Tim the Tatman. They’re just looking for a way to archive the raids that they do in Destiny with their friends. They’re fine just streaming a small group of friends, or just saving those spots, whatever it might be. Certainly a lot of people dive into the world of content creation and streaming without necessarily the big dreams of being the next big content creator. They might want to use it just to share with a small community they have. I’ve heard stories from the Final Fantasy XIV community of people who do just that. They have someone stream so that they can record their exploits in the world of Final Fantasy.

It’s a type of entertainment. There’s plenty of entertainment out there that has a large audience, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into every single person wanting to be a creator. Would we love it if every individual gave content creation a shot? Absolutely, because that’s how those superstars are found. One day, someone who says, “I love to play Overwatch,” they give it a shot and stream. Months later they find out that they’re a big streamer. They’ve found that next big thing. It doesn’t necessarily happen for everyone, but sometimes those who just give it a shot are the ones who end up being the superstars and the next generation.

The downside of fame

GamesBeat: There’s the downside of fame, which is you got to where you wanted to go, but then it’s not all you thought it would be. We’ve seen a lot of streamers talk about mental health challenges or having to deal with bad behavior among the fans. It feels like that’s one of Twitch’s major challenges right now, how to solve for this kind of problem. Especially during the pandemic. How do you enable these people to be successful without running into these problems?

Graham: Speaking to the pandemic, on the one hand, you’re absolutely right. Twitch facilitates meaningful connections, and the pandemic–you’ve seen the numbers behind the growth during the pandemic. A lot of people did turn to more interactive content like Twitch in order to fill in some of the gaps that they were having socially. Not being able to meet with their friends or quarantining, or maybe a different way to meet up with their friends. That’s certainly its own thing.

As far as the challenges of being a content creator, I look at the last 10 years of Twitch. There’s no doubt–you mentioned it already. This is a new industry. It’s opening up new opportunities. We’re learning new things each and every year, things that will help the future content creators be better content creators, and potentially find more success faster. But there’s no doubt that we take the mental wellness of our creators very seriously. We’re always trying to figure out ways that we can help our creators, whether that’s through the building of their communities, or through tools that can help them engage with their community, and not always feel like they necessarily need to be live all the time.

I also think that these aren’t necessarily challenges where we’re going to find one tool that will just solve everything. By continuously talking to the creators and the creators talking to their own communities about some of the challenges of being a content creator, it gives us the opportunity to be able to figure out ways to help and support the creators in more ways than we’ve been able to in the past.

Certainly not something that’s going to go away. But it’s something we’re always looking to think about. As we look forward to the next 10 years of Twitch, we’re very excited, because if we were just crawling in the first 10 years, this might be the next 10 years where we get to walk a little bit. We’re going to take all the learnings from the past 10 years and really apply that to the future of Twitch, and of course the future of all the generations of content creators that will inevitably find a home on Twitch.

The next 10 years?

twitch

Above: Broxh livestreams woodworking on Twitch.

Image Credit: Twitch

GamesBeat: What do you think about how we still might be in the very beginning of this? This is the first 10 years, but in another 10 years, it could be exponentially bigger or different. One thing I was thinking about was that–there’s that push toward user privacy now. Targeted advertising is taking it on the chin. You can’t just take user data and spam people with the hope of getting two percent of those people to download your free-to-play game. But influencers and the people who follow them seem like a very undertapped potential there that could replace what is falling off. It seems like there’s this huge potential for growth. That’s my example, but I wonder if you see other reasons why this should keep on growing and getting bigger.

Graham: Absolutely. There’s one thing–when I take two steps back and look at the last 10 years of Twitch, some of the key things that played into its growth that I mentioned–esports was one of them. But also the proliferation of who uses Twitch and what types of content are happening on Twitch. Now you see the growth of the Just Chatting section, and the fact that people aren’t limited just to playing games. People can also do fitness workouts. They can create music. They can make a talk show about sports. They can just sit around and chat with their friends. They can go outside and play Pokemon Go. They can travel to Japan.

One of the ways I look at this, when you look at the millions of people that are coming to Twitch every day, whether they’re creators or whether they’re viewers–we may have originally come to Twitch because we loved gaming. That was the one universal core thing that we all happened to have in common. But you know, because you’ve been in this industry as well, that we’re typically not defined by a single core interest. Yes, gaming, but I also love comic books. I love reading Brandon Sanderson. I love playing pinball and watching movies and watching anime and all of these other things.

As we bring millions of people who do share a core interest in gaming together on Twitch, which optimizes live interaction, it’s no surprise that you’ll see growth in content and evolution that plays into the other core interests that we have. That’s why I see comic book talk shows happening, and why some of my favorite Twitch streamers are also pinball streamers. It gives us the ability to share all of the things we love. Whether you’re a console gamer or you play on PC or you want to talk about the latest Disney+ series that everyone is watching, these core interests were always going to expand beyond gaming. In this last decade we’ve seen that slow bubbling of that find a place on Twitch to really diversify the types of content. I don’t expect to see that slowing down. Just like always, the userbase will continue to evolve and bring other core interests to Twitch, and as such, that content diversity will continue to grow and evolve.

twitch Deere

Above: Deere is an award-winning livestreamer on Twitch.

Image Credit: Twitch

Now, that’s from a content perspective. I know you mentioned things like targeted advertising and whatnot. On the Twitch side, obviously we’re always looking into ways to improve the product experience on Twitch, ways to benefit creators, ways to benefit audience. That goes for everything from commerce to those who are building products for community. That innovation and that thought in terms of how we’re future-proofing the next 10 years is never going to stop.

The hybrid life

GamesBeat: I would expect that this format could still get a good shot in the arm once everything comes back after the pandemic is done. We can do hybrid events. We can do in-person events again. Things like Twitch live from the show floor at E3 were and will be a big deal. The combination of in-person and online is still going to be strong in the future.

Graham: I absolutely agree with that. Everyone’s excited to get back to events. Everyone’s excited to see the games industry as a whole return back to what we would call normal. What we’ll probably see–you’ve had content creators making incredible strides in new types of content and new formats as a result of being indoors. Having to do things, thinking about everything with remote capability in mind.

What I hope we see is a lot of this almost bottled-up excitement from creators who say, “Awesome, now we can do all the things we were thinking about doing, that we came up with during quarantine. We created this new show that was successful. Now we can bring it to a live format.” Obviously with esports already starting to slowly see the live events come back, I think we’ll probably see another explosion in terms of the diversity of content overall. As we return to a level of normalcy that will be acceptable, we can be trying and experimenting with new things. You’ll see content creators, like they always are, because Twitch is community-driven–you’ll see them taking that to the next level.

It’s almost that unknown that makes me very excited. But I guarantee you, when you have a community like this that is doing everything they can to make new content and create a new remote world that we can live in given the circumstances, they’re definitely going to have some surprises when we come out on the other side.

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Tech

Varjo Reality Cloud lets you virtually experience a real place via ‘teleportation’

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Varjo is unveiling its way to teleport to virtual spaces today.

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Varjo is unveiling its Reality Cloud platform for virtual teleportation. That means one person can capture the reality of a space in a particular location and share that reality in extreme detail for a remote person to experience, virtually.

The Varjo Reality Cloud shares the details of a room in photorealistic detail, showing someone remotely located a view of the room in real time. Yes, you heard that. Varjo lets one person scan a 3D space and another person experience it virtually at almost the same time, as it can transfer the necessary data in compact streams of 10 megabits to 30 megabits per second with almost no time delays, the company said.

It’s a pretty amazing technology that comes from the pioneering work that Varjo has done in creating high-end virtual reality and mixed reality headsets for enterprises such Volvo, which uses it to design cars in virtual environments. The caveat, of course, is if the tech really works as envisioned.

“We are introducing Varjo Reality Cloud, and this is something very different from what you’ve seen from Varjo before,” said Timo Toikkanen, CEO of Varjo, said in an interview with GamesBeat. “We have been working on a software platform that is the first in the world that enables virtual teleportation.”

The earlier VR and mixed reality tech that Varjo introduced in the past couple of years now uses cameras on a Varjo VR-3 virtual reality headset to capture the environment around a person. Then it transmits that slice of reality to someone else who uses a headset to experience the exact same physical reality, but in a virtual way. If Varjo can deliver the Varjo Reality Platform with the same quality it shows in its videos, then it will feel like you’re “teleporting” from your real location to a virtual location.

“You can you can be anywhere in the world,” Toikkanen said. “You can scan your surroundings, not just a 3D object or something like that. You can digitize the world around you if you like. And do that in super high fidelity, through Varjo Reality Cloud, so anybody anywhere in the world can join you in that location and see it exactly the way you see it, in perfect color, with lights and reflections, and so forth.”

It’s no joke, as Varjo has been working on this for years and it has raised $100 million to date from investors including Volvo (via the Volvo Cars Tech Fund), Atomico, NordicNinja, EQT Ventures, Lifeline Ventures, Tesi, and Swisscanto Invest by Zürcher Kantonalbank.

“It’s a sci fi dream come true. But we are fully grounded in reality. So we have been looking at the at the experience. How can we enable people to have similar interpersonal experience as you do in real life, and do that remotely,” Toikkanen said. “What really accelerated for us during last year was the realization how world will never be returning to the same after COVID and travel will forever be changed. And we saw that this is one of those moments when world is more ready than ever for the transformation of this nature in the way the communication and interaction is done. This is the right time to begin that change.”

A realistic metaverse

Above: Varjo is unveiling its way to teleport to virtual spaces today.

Image Credit: Varjo

Toikkanen said that this capturing and sharing of reality is like a true-to-life metaverse, the universe of virtual worlds that are all interconnected, like in novels such as Snow Crash and Ready Player One.

He said that you will be able to see in real-time what your friend is seeing in another place through the cloud-based platform. One person can map their reality by looking around in a room, and that view is transported to the cloud and rebuilt as a room. The person that you share this reality with can view it and feel like they’re there, Toikkanen said.

“It’s a metaverse grounded in reality,” he said. “It really is like the science fiction, beaming yourself to the other end of the world and back. And we think we think this is a really big deal. If you think of the economical and ecological drivers in the world today, something like this makes travel unnecessary.”

He said it could pave the way for a new form of human interaction and universal collaboration.

“You can engage on a completely different level than you have ever been in the history of communications,” Toikkanen said. “It really does change things in a big way. Both for businesses as well as for private individuals. You can teleport to other people, to your family,  or you can teleport to a work project.”

The system lets anybody scan their surroundings, turning them into 3D imagery using a Varjo XR-3 headset and then transport that 3D space to another person. That person gets to see the exact physical reality, completely bridging the real and the virtual in true-to-life visual fidelity, said Urho Konttori, chief technology officer at Varjo in Helsinki, Finland.

“It’s super important that the latency is kept low enough so that you have you feel that the interaction is logical, and that you don’t have like motion-related latency,” said Konttori. “We have put immense amount of effort into making it so that human-eye resolution, fully immersive stream, from the cloud, can be sent in 10 to 30 megabits per second speeds.”

This real-time reality sharing will usher in a new era in universal collaboration and pave the way for a metaverse of the future, transforming the way people work, interact, and play, Konttori said.

For the past five years, Varjo has been building and perfecting the foundational technologies needed to bring its Varjo Reality Cloud platform to market such as human-eye resolution, low-latency video pass-through, integrated eye tracking and the Lidar ability of the company’s mixed reality headset.

The company has already delivered these building block technologies in market-ready VR products that enterprises use to design their products. And now Varjo is uniquely positioned to combine them with Varjo Reality Cloud to empower users to enjoy the scale and flexibility of virtual computing in the cloud without compromising performance or quality.

Using Varjo’s proprietary foveated transport algorithm, users will be able to stream the real-time human-eye resolution, wide-field-of-view 3D video feed in single megabytes per second to any device. This ability to share, collaborate in and edit one’s environment with other people makes human connection more real and efficient than ever before, eliminating the restrictions of time and place completely.

Dimension10 acquisition

Varjo has been working on the Varjo Reality Cloud for years.

Above: Varjo has been working on the Varjo Reality Cloud for years.

Image Credit: Varjo

To further accelerate bringing the vision for Varjo Reality Cloud to life, Varjo today also announced the acquisition of Dimension10, a Norwegian software company that pioneers industrial 3D collaboration.

“We’re big fans of the company and have been for a long time,” Toikkanen said. “They have been pioneering collaboration, 3D models. And we think collaboration is at the heart Varjo Reality Cloud and us joining forces with them expedites progress.”

The Dimension10 virtual meeting suite is designed for architecture, engineering and construction teams and will become a critical component to making virtual collaboration possible within Varjo Reality Cloud. Dimension10 adds 14 people to Varjo’s team.

Additionally, Varjo added Lincoln Wallen to the company’s board of directors. Wallen currently serves as the CTO at Improbable, and he is a recognized scholar in computing and AI.

Previously, Wallen has worked as CTO of Dreamworks where he transitioned global movie production to the cloud, including the development of a cloud-native toolset for asset management, rendering, lighting, and animation.

Varjo Reality Cloud will first be available to existing customers and partners in alpha access starting later this year. For more information about Varjo’s new cloud platform and its vision for the metaverse, tune into a live, virtual event today, June 24, 2021, at 9 a.m. Pacific time via varjo.com.

Tech demos

varjo Press Image for Varjo Reality Cloud 4

Above: Varjo lets one person scan a 3D space and another person experience it virtually.

Image Credit: Varjo

In a video tech demo, Varjo showed a simplification to show how the world can be captured and streamed in real time as a 3D representation. It shows a time-lapse capture of a scene captured in real-time from a Varjo XR-3 headset. The video is converted into a 3D space that someone with a viewer and access to the Varjo Reality Cloud can use to see that room from any 3D angle.

In the beginning of the video, the user scans the room and then stops to watch Konttori give a talk. While Konttori is speaking, you see the naturalness of the movement, captured with just a Varjo XR-3 headset in the room, no additional cameras or recording devices. The camera is able to move freely as it’s all in 3D and not a flat video.

In a second video, Varjo teleports Konttori to the company’s Varjo HQ in Helsinki in mixed reality. A user wearing the headset sees the teleported Konttori mixed into a physical space at the headquarters. Later they mix the teleported surroundings together with the physical space in the headquarters.

Cool technology

Volvo is using Varjo headsets to design cars.

Above: Kia is using Varjo headsets to design cars.

Image Credit: Varjo

Varjo was founded in 2016, when other headsets like the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive first appeared. But instead of targeting entertainment, Varjo went after enterprises with no-compromise technology.

It debuted its first VR headset, the XR-1, in early 2019 with human-eye resolution, or 1,920 pixels x 1,080 pixels per eye and an 87-degree field of view. That headset cost $10,000, but the company followed it up December 2020 with its XR-3 and VR-3 headsets that combined VR and augmented reality in the same headset.

That generation had twice the performance of the previous generation, with “human-eye resolution” of 1,920 pixels x 1,920 pixels per eye and a 115-degree field of view. It was also cheaper, ranging from $3,195 to $5,495 and it was available for cheaper enterprise subscriptions.

Now these headsets can be the jumping off point for the Varjo Reality Cloud, as they can connect to the datacenter and upload the scanned environment that someone can see via the cameras that are on the headset. The quality of the headset capture enables high-quality imagery in the cloud, Konttori said.

“We have innovated for the last five years on making that high fidelity possible,” Toikkanen said. “It links directly to the investment we have made on the headset side into gaze tracking, eye tracking, if you like, because that enables innovation. We have also invested in transporting the data between the locations, to the cloud and back, so that we can do this ensure high quality or super low latency. So that’s essentially what we are. We think of it as nothing less than the next form of human interaction.”

The hard part

Varjo is targeting professionals such as product designers with its XR/VR headsets.

Above: Varjo is targeting professionals such as product designers with its XR/VR headsets.

Image Credit: Varjo

“Nobody else is at the place that they have the hardware even near the quality that we have, let alone the software stack that allows us to actually pull this off,” Toikkanen said. “And we have of course be developing this simultaneously. And now is the culmination of all that work.”

Gaze tracking is important because if you can track where someone’s eyes are moving, then you know what they’re looking at and you can transport that view with low latency. That allows the company to create foveated transport algorithms, which means it only sends the data that you can see and that you are looking at, rather than other data that isn’t needed in real time at that moment.

“It’s a huge undertaking, and so we developed a year and a half ago a new way of doing that transport,” Konttori said. “The video stream focuses at the place that you’re looking at. That’s where we have the full resolution in the video stream. And then the degrades gradually from that towards the edges of the screen. And does that very quickly. It means that we can send the data that we send at the moment on cables from the computer to the headset, which is running at like 20 gigabits per second, and we can send that with our new compression technology at 10 megabits to 30 megabits per second.”

That means it works that you can share imagery with someone 2,000 miles away, Toikkanen said.

Enterprise applications

Varjo's XR-3 and VR-3 headsets.

Above: Varjo’s new XR-3 and VR-3 headsets.

Image Credit: Varjo

It’s a level of quality that is 10 times the resolution difference of other headsets out there, Konttori said.

“You get real-time presence because when we’re scanning, we’re just not just making a 3D model of the surroundings that you’re in and make that a teleport location,” Konttori said. “We’re actually updating that in real time.”

You could have a manager on a factory floor put on a headset. They can create a teleport node, and people from other countries can join and see what the manager sees. It’s all updated in real time and people get a sense they are truly at that location. They can fix the things that the manager is looking at, and then take off a headset and be at home.

“If you want to visit your family, it’s the same thing,” Konttori said. “You can share that physical location and people can instantly perceive the world as if they were actually there themselves.”

Once you scan a place, you don’t have to scan it again, Toikkanen said. And you can use any headset to teleport to a location, or use a phone and still have the freedom of movement to look around. But the Varjo XR-3 is the only device that can be the teleportation node that broadcasts and streams the 3D space to someone else.

Toikkanen said it’s like moving from the telephone to a video conference, and moving from that to something that is even more transformative.

“We think there are going to be a billion people using this kind of service over the next 10 years or 20 years,” he said. “We are in the alpha phase with real customers and partners this year.”

A cousin of the Omniverse

BMW Group is using Omniverse to build a digital factory that will mirror a real-world place.

Above: BMW Group is using Nvidia’s Omniverse to build a digital factory that will mirror a real-world place.

Image Credit: Nvidia

I asked if this would be a way to scan the world into Nvidia’s Ominverse, the metaverse for engineers that lets them simulate photorealistic details in a virtual world to test how they will work in reality. BMW is using the Omniverse for creating a “digital twin,” or a car factory it can design in a virtual space before it builds an exact copy in the physical world.

Toikkanen said that both tools are useful for the metaverse and they are complimentary.

“They’re both part of the like, movement towards metaverse, and this teleport functionality is adding a completely new node into the sphere of discussion of a metaverse, which is that one part of that can be the real world itself,” Toikkanen said. “And we make it so that you get the benefits of a metaverse also in real world setting. And we think that’s at least equally transformative as the metaverse which is typically seen only in virtual reality.”

GamesBeat

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Immutable will launch Ethereum token for Gods Unchained

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Immutable will launch Ethereum token for Gods Unchained

Where does your enterprise stand on the AI adoption curve? Take our AI survey to find out.


The gods are evidently fond of tokens. Immutable said today that the Gods Unchained blockchain card game will launch a new Ethereum token dubbed $GODS in partnership with Nine Realms.

Sydney, Australia-based Immutable will launch the $GODS token to scale its trading market and play-to-earn systems in the game. That means that players will be able to buy and sell the tokens in the game and gain a voice on how the blockchain game is run.

Immutable said this helps give players a stake in the game and its economy, shifting power from the developers to the players by providing in-game assets that players can actually own.

The $GODS token will sit at the heart of the game’s ecosystem, providing both in-game and external utility. At launch, $GODS will operate as a utility and governance token, giving holders a voice in the digital space, as well as active staking opportunities that allow players to earn rewards through gameplay campaigns. Over time, functionality will expand to embed the token within Gods Unchained’s play-to-earn game loops, allowing players to earn $GODS tokens by simply playing the game. I call this the Leisure Economy, where we get paid to play games.

$GODS will then directly interact with Gods Unchained’s nonfungible token (NFT) assets, which are new NFTs that players can wield in-game and trade or sell on the marketplace. That means that those games will have uniquely identifiable digital items that players can earn or buy or sell, allowing the players to own the items permanently.

Immutable X

Above: The $GODS Unchained token.

Image Credit: Immutable

Immutable X has created a marketplace for players in games such as Gods Unchained to buy and sell the items they have collected. Immutable X is the brainchild of Immutable, an Australian game team that runs the NFT trading card game Gods Unchained. Gods Unchained is an important NFT game, as it is built by a development team headed by Chris Clay, the former director of Magic the Gathering: Arena. Gods Unchained is a “play to earn” game, where players can earn collectibles over time, Immutable founder Robbie Ferguson said in a recent interview with GamesBeat. And they can make money by trading those collectibles, including the unique NFTs that can be proven by the blockchain, the secure digital ledger technology, to not be copies.

In the past few months, NFTs have exploded in other applications such as art, sports collectibles, and music. NBA Top Shot (a digital take on collectible basketball cards) is one example. Published by Animoca Brands and built by Dapper Labs, NBA Top Shot has surpassed $540 million in sales, five months after going public to a worldwide audience. And an NFT digital collage by the artist Beeple sold at Christie’s for $69.3 million. Investors are pouring money into NFTs, and some of those investors are game fans. The prices for NFTs have fallen, but many of those fans are undeterred.

As one of the highest-grossing blockchain games of 2020, Gods Unchained has logged millions of matches during its ongoing beta and boasts over 4 million assets. The token launch comes off the back of Gods Unchained’s latest expansion set, Trial of the Gods. That set completely sold out, and a new expansion is on the horizon.

$GODS is being created, issued and distributed by Nine Realms for use within the Gods Unchained ecosystem.

gods unchained

Above: Gods Unchained

Image Credit: Immutable

$GODS is an ERC-20 token that will interact natively with Immutable X, the layer 2 scaling solution for Ethereum trading. The Immutable X platform allows for peer-to-peer trading without the hindrance of gas fees, and will be expanding to include ERC-20 tokens once the $GODS token drops.

In 2020, Immutable partnered with StarkWare, a company that taps the benefit of using the Ethereum cryptocurrency and its security without incurring huge fees. Immutable X is built on top of StarkWare’s layer 2 scaling technology. Essentially, users don’t have to trust in Immutable lasting permanently in order to keep owning their NFTs — they can just trust in Ethereum. Immutable X’s mainnet is now available as the first layer 2 solution for NFTs on Ethereum, the company said.

Other solutions to Ethereum are creating alternative, faster cryptocurrencies with different methods of reaching a consensus. But these alternatives aren’t as popular as Ethereum. Another solution is to create a side chain, with a different kind of processing for transactions. But Immutable believes those solutions can fail because their security isn’t still as strong as Ethereum’s. If the security fails, then so does the authenticity of the NFT, and that would be disastrous, Immutable said.

For more information on $GODS, keep an eye on this link for updates around eligibility, distribution methods, and ways to claim and earn tokens. Immutable has about 100 employees, with 40 of them working on Gods Unchained.

GamesBeat

GamesBeat’s creed when covering the game industry is “where passion meets business.” What does this mean? We want to tell you how the news matters to you — not just as a decision-maker at a game studio, but also as a fan of games. Whether you read our articles, listen to our podcasts, or watch our videos, GamesBeat will help you learn about the industry and enjoy engaging with it.

How will you do that? Membership includes access to:

  • Newsletters, such as DeanBeat
  • The wonderful, educational, and fun speakers at our events
  • Networking opportunities
  • Special members-only interviews, chats, and “open office” events with GamesBeat staff
  • Chatting with community members, GamesBeat staff, and other guests in our Discord
  • And maybe even a fun prize or two
  • Introductions to like-minded parties

Become a member

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Survey-style measurement of IT isn’t effective, a ‘rigged lottery’

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Survey-style measurement of IT isn’t effective, a ‘rigged lottery’

Survey-style measurement of IT is a rigged lottery as it falls far short of providing a true measure of Digital Employee Experience (DEX).Read MoreK3d9ZEjzwis

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