By Daniel Casillas
The music event business was hit hard by the global coronavirus outbreak, as numerous festivals, concert tours, awards ceremonies, etc. have been canceled or postponed, resulting in losses of millions of dollars. The research firm Pollstar projected that industry revenues could decline by as much as $9 billion in 2020.
Faced with the inability to hold live concerts, many artists chose to stream their performances online. Virtual concerts, such as the iHeart Living Room Concert for America and Together at Home, have been organized to provide entertainment to the public and to raise awareness of methods to combat COVID-19, particularly social distancing.
But Los Angeles-based Sensorium Corporation is looking to go beyond online or streaming concerts with a Virtual Reality social platform where users can interact with each other and experience artistic expression in new and exciting ways.
Called Sensorium Galaxy, it is scheduled for launch in the first half of 2021, allowing people to attend live music events that will be created in cooperation with acclaimed artists and leaders in the media and entertainment industry.
Metro chatted with Brian Kean, Chief Communications officer at Sensorium Corporation, to learn more about this platform.
What is Sensorium Galaxy?
Sensorium Galaxy is a social VR platform – an alternate universe where users can interact with each other and experience the arts in exciting new ways. By immersing themselves in Sensorium Galaxy, users can get closer to their loved ones regardless of their physical location, and participate in unique virtual activities (music concerts, dance shows, art exhibitions, etc.)
The platform is scheduled for public launch in H1 2020. Sensorium Galaxy will be compatible with most VR headsets on the market (HTC Vive, Oculus Rift S and Valve Index) and support PC, iOS, and Android formats as well.
What does it consist of?
Sensorium Galaxy consists of multiple worlds. Each world acts as a content hub for a particular type of art. Users can explore a vast alternate universe full of high-quality content developed in partnership with acclaimed artists and world-leading media & entertainment firms.
Unlike other platforms on the market, Sensorium Galaxy leverages AI technology so that users’ avatars can become “digitally immortal.” Avatars are constantly learning from their users, identifying behavioral patterns, and refining their preferences. Based on such data, avatars are able to execute actions with autonomy, like joining certain events and even relating with other participants in Sensorium Galaxy without direct control of the user.
What is the story behind this project?
Despite the huge technological advancements made in the past two decades in telecommunications, people are feeling more isolated than ever before. Whether it is a phone call, a video call or text messages, the one-dimensional means of communication prevents us from being close to each other and doing things together. The immersive universe of Sensorium Galaxy is the next-generation communication platform, where people can be together regardless of real-life distances, explore a wide-range of virtual activities, and build alternate versions of their life paths.
What services and features does Sensorium Galaxy offer to potential users?
In Sensorium Galaxy, users can personalize their avatars with distinctive add-ons and special visual effects. After all, customization is a virtual aspect of enabling users to create better digital representations of themselves.
Everyone can join and explore Sensorium Galaxy for free. Members with premium subscriptions will gain access to certain on-demand content from the gallery, VIP-only parties, and exclusive concerts. Users can also pay specifically for those activities without any monthly or yearly commitment. In any case, there will be plenty of content that’s absolutely free.
What would those concerts and virtual festivals look like?
In virtual reality, there are no rules to your body or mind. You can experience art in entirely new ways by simply changing the perspective, getting closer to the artists, and enjoying shows in worlds that look like nothing you’ve seen before.
Do you think the pandemic could completely change the way we entertain ourselves?
Along with falling device prices, the COVID-19 pandemic has become a catalyst for boosting VR headset sales. The widespread restrictions of circulation and lockdown-related anxiety resulted in a noticeable shortage of headsets quickly after measures were announced worldwide.
As the interest in VR increases steadily among people, and companies like Sensorium start providing broader quality content, the immediate challenge for this sector will heavily rely on the cost of headsets – the key to a parallel universe.
Four uses of virtual reality in music:
It’s a fun app developed in collaboration with professional disc jockeys that allows you to simply immerse yourself in an environment with a normal vinyl DJ setting.
The Wave is a new type of interactive music experience. It allows VR headset users to attend festivals and concerts that they have missed. At the same time, it is possible to socialize with friends through the platform.
The Virtual Orchestra: Sibelius 5
This 360° experience allows users to understand the inner workings of a symphony orchestra. They can move between each instrumental group, in the backstage, stand next to the conductor or watch from the theater seats, while the orchestra plays the last movement of Sibelius’ “Symphony No. 5”.
Music Room VR
By placing an HTC Vive headset, users become multi-instrumentalists in the VR music room. In it, they can feel the beat when using a drum set, the energy when playing the piano or the emotion when strumming the strings of a guitar.