Ford Joins the VR Race With Dedicated 360-Video Content and Mobile App

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Bringing cars into VR is far from a new concept. Back in April, BMW announced ways that they’d be using the HTC Vive to help actually design cars and, earlier this month, Vroom let you turn that same Vive into a car showroom. RelayCars, another showroom-style app on Gear VR, is one of the most popular apps on the platform, with over half a million downloads as of early July. The possibilities are plentiful with VR technology, not only for simulations, but demonstrations as well.

This month, Ford debuted the Ford VR app on smartphones — you can download it for iOS devices and on the Google Play store for Android — with compatibility for Cardboard viewers. The content is reportedly created in collaboration with T Brand. According to a Ford representative, it’s also coming to the Gear VR store and the content of the app itself — mostly 360-videos — should be compatible on other platforms through video players. The only video available on the app currently is a short documentary-style video about the new 2016 Ford GT’s performance at Le Mans — a race Ford won with a GT 50 years ago. You can watch it on YouTube as well, embedded below:

Short, informative videos like this are becoming a popular form of 360-video content, with video players such as Samsung VR on the Gear VR, Within, and many others deploying consistent amounts of high-quality content. People watch documentary videos not only to be informed, but to get a behind-the-scenes look at events and places they couldn’t normally see.

Luckily, that’s what the Le Mans Ford Performance video does best. Throughout the experience, you’ll transition from a bird’s eye view of the track as cars race by, to a sideline view in the crowd of people, all the way to even being inside the car itself, as it speeds down the track and turns around corners.

Racing simulations like Project CARS and DiRT Rally are hugely popular for fans of those types of games, but also for training actual drivers. While videos like this may not offer much value in terms of training and preparation, the high-quality production values are certainly worth checking out, even if you aren’t much of a racing fan.

The biggest issue I had with the video is the sudden decision to transition your POV to that of a ferris wheel rider in the middle of the video. Carnival rides like that are known to produce sudden motion sickness in VR, but if you’re viewing outside of a headset on your smartphone or on your desktop, then it shouldn’t be an issue.

According to a post on Ford’s website, this video is just the beginning of their offerings for VR content. “We will be following up the excitement of 24 Hours of Le Mans with the exhilaration of riding along with Ken Block and his teammate Andreas Bakkerud in the World Rallycross Ford Focus RSRX,” and hopefully much more after that.

Author: bbaker

Brett Baker has over 20 years experience in film, television and video game production. His television work includes special effects animation for " VanPires" (1997) animated series and post production for "Teletubbies" (2001). His video game work includes titles such as William Shatner's "Tekwar" and" ChronoMaster" featuring the voices of Ron Perlman and Lolita Davidovich. His animation studio Exodus Entertainment, was responsible for the animation that resulted in Mattel® being award the master toy license for the Harry Potter® franchise in 2002. He received his M.F.A. in filmmaking in 2004 before going on to work on feature film projects such as "Gringo Wedding" in 2006 and "Get Smart" in 2008. He currently owns and is an animator and designer with his own agency, Axxis 3.