The Huffington Post Embraces Virtual Reality
Virtual reality having taken on classrooms, amusement parks, even IKEA kitchens, car showrooms and departmental stores is now coming to The Huffington Post.
Verizon-owned AOL made known plans to purchase the Los Angeles-based virtual reality media company RYOT, meaning that RYOT’s documentary filmmaking team can add 360-degree video and VR content to The Huffington Post—also owned by AOL—through a “VR news network.”
Huffington Post Breaking New Ground
“The Huffington Post is continuing to reimagine journalism as we move into the next generation of dynamic storytelling,” according to Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of the Post, in a statement.
The online news site had already worked with RYOT on a virtual reality video project concerning the refugee crisis in Greece, “combining technology and storytelling to put flesh and blood on a human crisis that, for far too many around the world, had become an abstraction,” Huffington said.
Virtual reality is still an industry in its earliest stages of development. Facebook-owned Oculus only debuted its much-anticipated Rift headset earlier this year, HTC followed up with the Vive shortly after and Sony will launch their Playstation VR in the fall.
Huffington Post’s Statement
Huffington continues: “As anyone who’s ever experienced VR on a headset or 360-degree video on your phone knows, the possibilities are powerful. And RYOT brings all the tech know-how that make these experiences possible. RYOT’s global vision led by CEO and Co-Founder Bryn Mooser and brought to life by the rest of their incredibly creative team has taken viewers to Haiti’s largest slum, inside the fight to save elephants in Kenya, behind the music with an Inuit heavy metal band on Baffin Island, and along for a ride with a man who quit his job to bike across the world. We’re delighted to bring all this to all of our 15 international editions and to all our users around the world.”
“…the real reason we’re joining forces is that RYOT are committed to using cutting-edge technology for a larger purpose. “We tell stories of resilience that move audiences to take action,” as they put it. And maybe it’s media karma, but RYOT’s mission — to “Inform, Entertain, and Activate to Ignite Change Through Next Generation Storytelling” — even overlaps with HuffPost’s own: to Inform, Inspire, Entertain, and Empower,” stresses Huffington
“You can see this mission brought to life in everything RYOT produces. It’s hard to do justice in words to the experiences they create, but I’ll mention just a few more examples. RYOT’s short documentary Body Team 12 — about those charged with the grim task of collecting bodies at the peak of the Ebola crisis — was acquired by HBO and went on to receive an Oscar nomination and win a best documentary short award at the Tribeca Film Festival. Their films have won 11 awards and been shown at 40 international film festivals.”
Virtual reality, however, isn’t all about the headsets and the fancy gaming systems.
RYOT has also partnered with the Associated Press and the New York Times, which sent out over 1.3 million Google Cardboard VR modules to their (newspaper) subscribers last year to enable them watch the stories of refugee children on their smartphones and tablets.
Facebook has made no secret of the social network’s plans for the world of VR, recently unveiling a new 360-degree camera capable of shooting 3D images as part of the company’s 10-year plan to perfect social media capabilities on virtual reality devices.
As media companies, consumers, and Silicon Valley execs continue to get comfortable with this new virtual world, experts predict that the VR industry could be poised to grow into as much as a $10 billion industry by 2020.