Monday March 27, 2017

Valve Adds Steam 360 Video Backbone to the Beta Client

Valve is readying the Steam Beta Client for Steam 360 Video. Valve has partnered with Pixvana, Akamai, and leading content providers on the Field of View Adaptive Streaming open projection format or FOVAS. This will allow for playback of 8K-10K resolution masters using only 1080p bandwidth. The current Adaptive Streaming format that Valve employs today contains the basic building blocks that FOVAS is based on. It is an open standard.

The way that it is explained is imagine breaking a video up into 30 viewports. The viewport that you are focusing on in the middle will have a 10K high bandwidth experience and look excellent. The others will be of a lower resolution that isn't up to HD standards. When you move your head, FOVAS will adapt to your new viewport by increasing the bandwidth of where you are focusing now. The surrounding viewports will be reduced to a lower quality. This new system is being implemented to give SteamVR users a much richer experience overall as the old system looks pixelated and dull.

Valve is expecting to add a "One button publish to Steam" functionality for content creators to publish their 360 videos onto Steam. The Steam Store and Library will be extended to identify and watch 360 videos. There will be an integrated player for Desktop and Virtual Reality headsets. There is a Pixvana SPIN Technology Preview now on Steam for SteamVR compatible headsets.

This new technology seems like it will give a much better experience for SteamVR first time impressions. Getting rid of the large pixels of stretched video and replacing it with a 10K quality viewport seems like a wise and sound move by Valve. There is a couple of hundred ms of switch time currently that Valve is working on correcting before the full roll out of the service. The probability of me purchasing one of the HTC Vive headsets is going up everyday.