CNN's Experiment With Virtual Reality Doesn't Go Well During Democratic Presidential Debate


Why CNN decided to experiment with virtual reality for the low-action Democratic presidential debate Tuesday night is beyond most, but the network did and the results weren't great.

According to CNET, CNN commissioned virtual-reality startup Next VR to make the debate available in virtual reality in real time. As long as viewers had a prototype of the Samsung Gear VR headset, they were able to watch the likes of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders make their sticking points in virtual reality.

The results left a lot to be desired, though. CNET reports that the five Democratic candidates were barely recognizable from the three to four camera angles used over the debate's two hours. That being said, as many as nine CNN logos were still able to be seen in any given shot, as was the debate's moderator Anderson Cooper.

So, overall, any splash that CNN tried to make with the technology hitting the mainstream was quelled.

The hope is that Samsung, which expects to hit stores with the consumer edition of its VR headset this holiday season, might be able to learn something from this experiment. The same can be said for Facebook and Sony, which are also prepping their own VR devices for next year.

Last week, Sony, in particular, acquired SoftKinetic Systems, a Belgian startup known for its image sensor technology, which could be used to bolster its upcoming virtual-reality device.

Before the debate, NextVR co-founder D.J. Roller told CNET, "I tell people that it's like the first brick cell phone, but it's still pretty good" about the technology.

Afterward, though, he said, "That's as bad as it's going to get."

If that proves true, the real-time viewing experience for virtual-reality audiences should only improve from here on out.

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