Verizon to pair 5G, immersive VR with Dreamscape

Verizon is looking to create new education and training applications that utilize 5G and mobile edge compute for immersive virtual reality (VR) experiences in a partnership with Dreamscape.

Los Angeles-based Dreamscape Immersive delivers VR “adventures” in four locations around the world. Each promise to transport visitors – as active participants – into a unique and complex VR experience like a wildlife refuge in space, or reuniting a family of whales in the deep sea.

Its platform mixes cinematic storytelling and technology including proprietary full-body tracking for untethered VR, with the former head of Dreamworks Motion Pictures Walter Parkes and Disney Imagineering alum Bruce Vaughn among Dreamscape founders.

Now Verizon Ventures has taken an equity stake in the company and plans to form a dedicated lab to help create learning-focused VR applications powered by low-latency MEC and high-capacity 5G Ultra Wideband. Financial terms were not disclosed.

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“Verizon’s partnership with Dreamscape shows how innovative tech built on our 5G network can revolutionize industries,” said Tami Erwin, CEO of Verizon Business, in a statement. “Using 5G and Edge computing, we are creating immensely powerful and complex VR experiences using lower-cost, tetherless VR hardware, and advancing VR education and training simulations beyond what was previously thought possible. This opens the door to new experiences and makes VR training more accessible for students, trainees, and professionals.”

As a Dreamscape investor, Verizon joins familiar names in entertainment like WarnerMedia, Viacom, Disney, AMC, IMAX, Steven Spielberg, and Hans Zimmer.

The education-focused lab is part of Dreamscape Learn, an initiative with Arizona State University (ASU) that launched last September to bring avatar-based AR experiences to both students on campus and online courses. An immersive biology curriculum including a 16x16-square foot pod is part of ASU’s agenda in 2021.

Verizon is also eyeing 5G-powered VR for professionals as part of the Dreamscape partnership, targeting training applications in the enterprise and public sector. The pair will collaborate on simulated training that uses avatars, specifically tapping Dreamscape’s ADEPT (Avatar Driven Educational and Practical Training) Platform.  The ADEPT platform uses proprietary tracking and rendering tech to help create the real-world feel in VR environments.

“Dreamscape is founded on the premise that we can think beyond physical limitations to create new ways for our world to learn, play, and work. With Verizon as our partner, we’re able to push the limits of VR. Together, we’ll set the standard for VR innovation and application in every field,” said Dreamscape CEO Walter Parkes in a statement.

Verizon already has a handful of 5G incubator labs across the country, with specialized focuses such as public safety, entertainment and gaming, and others.

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A November forecast from IDC projected worldwide AR and VR spending to grow to $72.8 billion in 2024, at a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 54%. The firm projected training and industrial maintenance to receive the largest commercial investments in 2024, at $4.1 billion each.

At the time, Stacey Soohoo, research manager for Customer Insights & Analysis at IDC, called out enterprise training as a continued leading use case for AR/VR adoption.

“In addition, managing face-to-face interactions and touch points in and out of the physical workplace are just as essential; ranging from virtual property tours to retail showcasing, organizations are adopting AR/VR to create a personalized, immersive customer experience,” Soohoo stated. “Many enterprises are making necessary investments to address needs that outlive ones brought on by the pandemic, and for many, the adoption of AR/VR is just the tip of the iceberg."

More recently, in February, Market Research Future called out wide adoption of VR in sectors including education as driving boosts in global VR market demand over the next seven years.

MRFR stated that there’s a “huge need for simulation tools for promoting interactive learning and expediting the learning rate among students is a novel opportunity for [VR] players.”