Hollywood’s getting serious about moving beyond those old cardboard 3D glasses.
The 21st Century Fox entertainment conglomerate said that it has a deal to buy a minority stake in a leading maker of headwear for virtual reality and augmented reality, Osterhout Design Group.
The news comes as a Fox subsidiary plans a CES debut for the virtual-reality version of its hit film, ‘The Martian’, in which Matt Damon plays an Earthling space traveler left behind by his shipmates on the surface of Mars. This version, which lasts 20 minutes or so, will let viewers share some of Damon’s adventures in what’s been described as an immersive and interactive visual experience. According to published reports, Fox plans to distribute the virtual-reality version for viewing through headsets made by several manufacturers.
Other studios are also dabbling in virtual reality. And Fox sees a big future in producing entertainment for the medium. In a statement, Fox executive Jim Gianopulos says the company’s preliminary agreement to invest in Osterhout will push films “into the future” and “bring audiences exciting new creative experiences.” Fox hasn’t disclosed the amount of the investment.
Osterhout is known for making stylish, computerized ‘smart glasses’ that can project realistic images in a wearer’s field of vision. That’s done either by overlaying images on the real world, in what’s known as ‘augmented reality’, or in a more immersive ‘virtual reality’ experience that appears to surround the wearer with projected images. It’s showing off a new augmented-reality headset, designed for commercial and industrial uses, at this year’s CES in Las Vegas.