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Startup ‘Technoblood’ Achieves Success in Battleground e-Sports VR Casting
  • November 28, 2018
Startup ‘Technoblood’ Achieves Success in Battleground e-Sports VR Casting

With the global rise of VR (virtual reality) technology over the past two years, efforts have also increased in Korea to adopt VR into games and other screened devices. However, the VR market has largely stagnated, unable to progress beyond games. Many would say VR is in a ‘chasm’, which is the stagnation experienced by a new technology or product in its early stages on the market before being widely adopted by the general public. Leading Korean game companies such as Netmarble have remained focused on the mobile or PC game markets, judging it to still be too early to enter the VR market.

Amid this stagnation of the VR market, live e-sports casting with ‘eye tracking’ HMD technology has become a reality. On May 19, the final round of the ‘HOT6 2018 PUBG Survival Series Season 1’ was live-cast in VR from the Hwajeong Tiger Dome at Korea University. The event marked the first time a VR live cast was made using Korean technology. Audiences wearing HMD VR headsets were able to simultaneously view multiple live cast screens. This was made possible by ‘Technoblood Korea’ (CEO: RYU, Il-yeong; hereinafter Technoblood) and OGN. Technoblood is Korea’s number 1 VR contents supplier. Since supplying some 1,000 Internet cafes in Korea and Japan with free VR headsets, Technoblood has provided more than 1,000 VR contents through their VR contents platform ‘Virtual Gate.’ Technoblood collaborated with CJ E&M’s game channel OGN to begin VR live casting of ‘Battleground Survival Series Season 2 HOT6 PSS S2’. Technoblood has also set aside space in their own Virtual Gate Internet cafes for viewing Battleground competitions in VR.

It all started with a casual conversation between Technoblood's CEO Ryu Il-yeong and the director of OGN. The two CEOs had a meeting, and at the end of the meeting, the director of OGN started venting. OGN had set aside three stories in their company building for Battleground tournament live casts. The arena featured some 100 seats for competitors and multi-layer seating for 300 audience members, and cost a total of KRW 1 billion. The problem was that people would come to the arena and watch the tournament on their smartphones, instead of watching the live cast in the arena. Why would they go through the trouble of coming to the arena if they were going to stare at their own smartphones? Players these days broadcast their own gameplay screens through individual streaming. Fans are too engrossed in each player’s individual broadcasts to pay attention to what goes on the big screen. The station tried splitting the big screen to show individual player screens and to encourage visitors to watch, but to no avail. Ryu told OGN’s director that Technoblood had the technology to show multiple screens in VR, and in just two days, sent OGN a demo of the technology. Over the next two weeks, the technology was further refined.

Ryu said that the ‘Project for the Development of Human Physical Data and Contents Recommendation Technology to Develop User Human Data-based VR Contents Recommendation Platform,’ sponsored by the Korea Creative Content Agency, was the beginning of it all. Technoblood had a platform operation background, and had recently launched the Virtual Gate platform, which meant that they already had user data available in terms of gender and age, etc. Technoblood combined this data with its unrivaled ‘eye recognition’ VR technology to achieve Korea’s first ‘e-Sports VR live cast’.

The ‘Project for the Development of Human Physical Data and Contents Recommendation Technology to Develop User Human Data-based VR Contents Recommendation Platform’, headed by Technoblood, was sponsored by the Korea Creative Content Agency. A total of KRW 260 million was granted by the agency to fund the project, which was executed by Technoblood together with Gachon University, Namseoul University, and Creta Games. The project resulted in the filing of two domestic patent applications and the publication of two academic papers. Above all, the project resulted in the development and successful launching of the ‘Virtual Gate’ VR contents platform. ‘Virtual Gate’, as the name suggests, signifies ‘a gate to the virtual world.’

Technoblood's VR brand ‘Virtual Gate’ is supplying the world's first eye-tracking HMD (Head-mounted Display) ‘FOVE’ free of charge to member Internet cafes throughout Korea and Japan. Each Internet cafe receives four HMDs. A total of 10,000 units are currently installed in Internet cafes, and the company aims to install 40,000 units by the end of this year. Eye tracking technology—in which sustained gazes and blinking are used to control and click the cursor—is used for these user interface (UI) technologies. The world's first eye-tracking HMD ‘FOVE 0’ is produced by the Japanese VR company Fove, created with investments from Samsung, SoftBank, and other companies. Technoblood is one of Fove's major clients and has partnered with Fove for business ventures in Korea. Fove’s advantage over conventional HMD units, which require considerable space to operate, is that, thanks to its ‘eye movement controls,’ it can be used in the limited spaces available in Internet cafes. This type of control system also reduces dizziness on the part of the user. Wearing a FOVE unit for a Battleground live cast presents the user with a curved screen with a 170 to 180-degree field of vision. This is exactly the same field of vision people naturally have without turning their head. The more vertical and horizontal head movements required when using an HMD, the more likely a user is to experience dizziness. FOVE has adopted ‘gaze-based movement’ technology, which helps minimize dizziness, a major hindrance to enjoying VR contents. During the live event cast, of the 50 audience members, only one with impaired vision removed their FOVE unit complaining of discomfort. The remaining users did not encounter any dizziness during their experience.

SEO, Mi-hee│Guest Reporter│eidal0874@naver.com | Photos by MOON, Gyeong-rok