The BBC hopes to bring VR to the mainstream with VR Hub

The BBC has announced a department for virtual reality experiences called VR Hub, that is going to invest in commissioning high-quality VR experiences. 

In a blog post on the BBC website, team lead Zillah Watson outlined the hope of getting more people into the emerging technology using the BBC’s reach and ability to make world-leading entertainment:

“Our research shows that for as long as the quantity of high-quality content remains low, and the experience remains cumbersome, mainstream audiences won’t use VR. That’s why we’re focusing on a small number of high impact pieces that have broad, mainstream appeal.”

Out of this world experiences

It’s starting the ball rolling with an experience called Home. In Home, you can experience a space walk, perform maintenance work on the International Space Station, and then face a ‘terrifying emergency situation’.

Parallels can obviously be drawn to the RT produced Spacewalk in 360, which has been watched over half a million times on YouTube. Although that was a 360 degree video rather than a VR experience so you’re not able to control the outcome of any events.

If you want some 360 space video action right now, check out the BBC video below – released to accompany the launch of Home – that includes footage from space, with narration from astronaut Helen Sharman about the experience of looking back at our planet from space:

Home has already been shown in film festivals around the world, and has won many awards including a Cannes Lion. This release marks the first time that it has been made available to the public, and the first VR from the BBC available on the HTC Vive.

The BBC has in the past created experiences that were available on the Oculus Rift, Google Daydream, and Samsung Gear VR, but creating experiences that can be downloaded from the Steam Store open up the user-base to include owners of the industry-leading HTC Vive and the Windows Mixed Reality headsets.

Getting in on the action

If you’re a VR content creator, the BBC has a page for commissions so you can go and pitch your idea to be made by one of the most prolific television companies in the world. 

Whether this step will create a bigger uptake of VR is yet to be seen, but certainly having mainstream content creators invest in it the way the BBC is doing here will mean for those using the technology the quality of content available is going to improve vastly in the coming years.

For now, if you want to experience Home, it's available to download for free from the Steam and Oculus stores.

Andrew London

Andrew London is a writer at Velocity Partners. Prior to Velocity Partners, he was a staff writer at Future plc.