Korean VR Startup Introduces 360 Social Media Platform
“From capturing 360 photos to sharing – this app does it all”
Next Aeon Inc. a member company of the K-ICT Born2Global Centre, announced the official launch of its virtual reality brand, YouVR. On September 25th, YouVR 360 and YouVR Maker will be available on Google Play Store and App Store. This innovative mobile solution will change the way people engage with 360 degree photos and virtual reality tours. With the aim to democratize VR, Next Aeon has developed an easy, affordable and fun way people can create and share VR content.
The first of its kind, YouVR 360 is a social media platform where people can upload and share 360 degree photos anytime, anywhere. Originally conceived as a 360 camera app, it soon transformed into a social media app once the developers at Next Aeon realized that 360 degree photos were scattered all over the internet. There was no collective platform where people could freely upload, see and comment on panorama photos, as they do on Instagram or Facebook.
Inviting photographers, IT enthusiasts, bloggers and anyone with a taste for adventure to partake in this new forum of exchange, YouVR 360 is more than a hand-held camera that takes panorama images. With YouVR, users can take 360 degree photos, upload instantly and interact with fellow users all over the world. It also offers a range of filters you can use to add dramatic effect. Traditional 2D photos have not changed greatly since their invention and people are ready for a new way of perceiving and capturing the world around them.
YouVR 360 also supports 360 cameras, such as Ricoh Theta and Samsung Gear360.
For those that have a more professional need, Next Aeon also released YouVR Maker. This app allows users to create VR tours on the spot as they take a series of 360 degree pictures. The app automatically connects scenes creating the effect of a tour – moving from room to room, from one space to another.
The demand for VR content has risen over the last couple of years, but there is still a major lack of content. Existing VR-related devices and software programs are too expensive and difficult for the average user. YouVR overcomes these obstacles by making VR content creation and management affordable, easy and fast.
The key to making this possible is in its technology. Early this year, Next Aeon developed the fastest image stitching technology on mobile devices and incorporated it into the YouVR apps. The successful implementation of this technology is a feat on its own. Existing image stitching processes take up to a minute on PC. Next Aeon's mobile technology takes just one second to ‘stitch' six photos into a 360 degree image using the iPhone 7. It automatically detects the overlapping parts – feature points – between images, stitches them together and adjusts the light and color contrast to produce a seamless high-quality 360 degree image.
The amazing thing about this is that all this is done on the smartphone.
“Given the limited CPU and memory on a smartphone and other mobile devices, realizing this technology is extremely difficult. There are external factors to consider, such as the amount of light in one corner of the room to another, but there are also internal obstacles in a smartphone setting. Overcoming these limitations, we are able to democratize VR by making it available to anyone who has a mobile device,” says Ken Kim, CEO of Next Aeon.
Next Aeon recently became the official partner of the Korea Association of Realtors (KAR) and launched YouVR as a full-fledged VR CMS platform. YouVR will be available to over 100,000 realtors in Korea. This is just the start. The possibilities are endless.
When asked about his motivation behind the development of YouVR, Ken replied, “I wanted to make VR common place. As ubiquitous as our world is now, immersive media content has not been able to catch up. The problem was that it was too difficult to make. YouVR was meant to be DIY from the beginning.”
He added, “I envision a world where everyone has VR at their fingertip. Just as smartphones have become a natural part of our daily lives today, YouVR will be a household name in the near future.”
Next Aeon is looking ahead and beyond. Having partnered with KAR in Korea, it believes that its product will benefit agents, sellers, buyers and transform the real estate market globally. As the first step, it will be showcasing YouVR at the REALTORS® Conference and Expo held in Chicago in November.
“We participated in the same event last year and got really positive responses. People were ready to buy immediately. That experience gave me the confidence to push forward and expand globally. When it comes down to it, we all have the same problems when it comes to home searching and selling,” says Ken. “YouVR will change how we deal with spaces.”
This ambitious startup is already preparing to introduce yet another newly developed technology. Also under the YouVR brand, Next Aeon will release a 360 degree hybrid video mobile app in October. Currently in the final stages of development and testing, this new technology integrates image and video to create an immersive VR experience on thesmartphone. When compared to regular 360 degree videos, YouVR 360 degree hybrid video is only quarter the size ensuring that the quality of the video is consistent in any environment.