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The official PlutoSphere logo. (Pluto VR Image)

Seattle-based Pluto VR is launching a new streaming platform for virtual reality.

服务,PlutoSphere, is meant to stream games live over the internet to compatible VR headsets without the need for a local PC as a go-between. That, in turn, dramatically lowers the cost of entry for VR, opening it up to a wider audience.

“PlutoSphere represents a major milestone in the spatial computing industry,” Pluto VR co-founder Forest Gibson said in a statement. “Now you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on gaming rigs, graphics cards, and premium VR headsets to play popular PC VR titles.”

PlutoSphere is compatible with the Oculus Quest and Quest 2 VR headsets, with plans to support Windows PCs, iOS and Android mobile devices, the Microsoft HoloLens, and Nreal glasses in the future. It also requires 50 Mbps of bandwidth and a 5 Ghz WiFi 6 internet connection. According to Gibson, the PlutoSphere PC client, upon release, will enable compatibility with other headsets such as the HTC Vive or Valve Index.

In a move that Gibson calls “[breaking] down the walled garden,” PlutoSphere also allows users to access their game libraries on the Steam and Epic digital storefronts, alongside the ability to install and run any OpenVR or OpenXR application.

再加上冥王星对Oculus的支持,听起来冥王星正在努力为PC VR玩家创建一个一体化的解决方案,其中许多玩家可能有多个游戏分散在几个不同的店面上。该公司计划在PlutoSphere发布后增加更多功能,比如持久的社交层和对增强现实应用程序的支持。

The Pluto VR founding team. From left to right: Jonathan Geibel, Forest Gibson, Jared Cheshier, and John Vechey. (Pluto VR photo)

冥王星VRwasstarted in 2015by Gibson, Jared Cheshier, former Disney animation executive Jonathan Geibel, and PopCap co-founder John Vechey. Its other projects include aneponymous communication servicefor VR environments, and the recently-debutedMetachromium, a spatial browser that lets you open web browser apps as an overlay running on top of any other VR game.

Since its founding, Pluto VR’s staff has grown to 22 people. Following a2017年A轮融资, Pluto has been working on R&D, infrastructure development, and contributing to projects such as OpenXR and WebXR. It plans to pursue a Series B round later this year.

“PlutoSphere is the result of us working in spatial computing, participating in open standards, and working to develop a more open ecosystem,” Gibson said to GeekWire. “Our aim with PlutoSphere is to open the doors of closed platforms and offload computing and rendering to the cloud or edge, to be able to run a wider range of games and applications alongside each other.”

Gibson noted that VR and AR are still mostly locked in a “single app” world.

“您运行一个应用程序,provides your entire experience,” he said. “There is a growing need to be able to have multiple apps running at the same time, just like you have on your computer.”

In a piece hepublished on Medium last month, Gibson describes multi-app as the future of spatial computing.

而虚拟现实耳机和其他的销售gear have steadily climbed over the course of the last year, it still only makes up a tiny bit of the overall games industry, kept visible by a relative handful of extremely enthusiastic developers and players.

More than 3 million players picked up VR headsets in 2020,spending $1.1 billion on games and hardware. 听起来好像很多,但整个游戏产业却膨胀到$180 billion in spending in 2020. VR in 2021 is and remains an exciting, well-publicized, growing, but ultimately narrow niche, despite the efforts ofmajor players such as Valve.

If the PlutoSphere works as advertised, that would lower the cost of getting into VR to the point where it’s roughly competitive with picking up a new Nintendo Switch. In theory, this would do a lot to remove two of the major barriers— cost and space — that naturally limit VR’s appeal to the wider consumer market.

再加上像Oculus Go这样价格低廉、更新的独立耳机,这是朝着让VR进入更多感兴趣的消费者的家庭迈出的一大步。不过,这也是一项游戏流媒体服务,这意味着住宅互联网和其他基础设施障碍可能是美国市场的一个严重问题。

Pluto is scheduled to open reservations for the PlutoSphere service for interested buyers on Tuesday morning.

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