Theta + SamsungVR — The latest in a long line of VR breakthroughs for the Theta team
If you haven’t heard the news, SamsungVR went live last month with a new channel powered by the Theta blockchain! SamsungVR’s initial deployment with Theta will stream SLIVER.tv esports content in virtual reality, the first in history to be livestreamed with blockchain. Any user that logs on can start sharing relaying 360 VR streams to other viewers, and the tokens they earn in return are all viewable on the Theta testnet blockchain. The deployment will start with desktop VR, with mobile and VR headset access to be added in the coming months.
While we’re proud of this recent milestone, many people don’t realize that the Theta team’s experience with VR content began long before the Theta project was launched. In fact, Mitch, Jieyi, and the rest of the Theta team actually pioneered VR livestreaming of esports in the early days of SLIVER.tv.
As early as September 2016, SLIVER.tv was creating the first-ever VR livestream of a major esports tournament at ESL One in partnership with Nvidia, live with 10,000 spectators at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Running on a cluster of NVIDIA GPUs the team was able to record multiple in-game 2D streams, render 360 VR images in real-time, then distribute the video to an estimated 50,000 viewers across the SLIVER.tv website, app, and VR app. All of this done live, with essentially zero lag!
The 2017 Intel Extreme Masters tournament in Katowice, Poland was another big step for SLIVER.tv. This massive event saw 173,000 fans attend live, and another 46 million watch online. SLIVER.tv’s immersive VR coverage of the event included live stats, replays, and scores and had more than 340,000 unique visitors tune in (the largest VR production in 2017).
SLIVER.tv allowed viewers in the stadium and at home to watch the battles in 360 VR, including slow-motion replays of game highlights, rendered in real-time just like you would see in any other live sports event.
This was truly groundbreaking stuff — many of the techniques necessary to pull off 360 VR rendering in real-time simply didn’t exist at the time. So Mitch, Jieyi, and the Theta team had to invent them! The innovations led to SLIVER.tv receiving 4 U.S. patents for inventing the technology to create and distribute 360 VR content at scale:
Methods and systems for game video recording and virtual reality replay (US9473758B1)
Methods and systems for non-concentric spherical projection for multi-resolution view (US9998664B1)
Methods and systems for virtual reality streaming and replay of computer video games (US9573062B1)
Methods and systems for computer video game streaming, highlight, and replay (US9782678B2)
Together, these patents describe how SLIVER.tv was able to use record multiple in-game 2D video streams from a central viewpoint, which are then stitched together to create a 360 spherical video that can then be controlled by the user. The portion of the sphere currently in the viewer’s sight is rendered at high resolution, while areas outside of the current view are rendered in lower resolution, optimizing for bandwidth constraints. As the user moves the field of vision, the different images must be rendered in high resolution in real-time.
This is just the start for Theta, SLIVER.tv, and VR content! As the VR space continues to grow in years to come, Theta will be at the forefront with innovative ways to share content and be rewarded for it.