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When Sprint wanted to show off its 5G network’s ability to transform telecommunications, it partnered with Nokia and Imeve for a demonstration of how VR goggles will offer live, human-guided tours of remote locations, complete with responsive audio. Now Imeve is launching its Avatour app in beta form, giving U.S.-based companies nearly three months to test its functionality and help refine the software ahead of release.

Avatour magically does something that sounds a lot simpler than it is to achieve: Up to five people can use either VR goggles or mobile devices to join a host at a livestreamed location. As the host speaks and moves through the space in live video form, viewers can talk back and look around with full 360-degree vertical and horizontal head freedom, seeing other viewers as computer-generated avatars. The host can also see what viewers are looking at, thanks to the orientation sensors in their headsets and mobile devices.

In the live demo VentureBeat saw last week, Avatour was streaming the full 360-degree spherical view of the scene at all times, so if you turn your head quickly in any direction, you continue to see live video without interruptions. Lag was only modest despite using a basic $200 Oculus Go headset as a viewing device over Wi-Fi, and the artifact-free resolution looked better than the promised 720p, with a sub-$500 spherical video camera recording the VR broadcast.

This level of impressively smooth performance was likely attributable to the experience of Imeve’s team. The young company was founded last year by members of Nokia’s OZO camera team, which developed a $60,000 professional VR video capture system that continued to drop in price before its cancellation in late 2017. Now Avatour works with a $380 Ricoh Theta V or $400 Insta 360 One X.

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Imeve suggests that Avatour will find uses in remote property tours, project progress reviews, education, and hospitality, among other applications. Businesses interested in participating in the beta can register today through October 15 to get access, and will be able to customize app for their business needs, as well as helping Imeve to refine the product’s roadmap. The beta program will end November 30, 2019.

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