Discussing the Future of VR with Jaunt Founder Jens Christensen

Insights from the FirstMark Hardwired series, a monthly event in New York covering the intersection of hardware and software, including Internet of Things, 3D printing, robotics, and virtual reality. With more than 4,000 members, Hardwired surfaces the stories behind some of the most interesting companies in the world.

Jaunt has been a leader in bringing virtual reality to the mainstream for both creators and consumers. The company has built an end-to-end cinematic VR platform that includes a high-end 360-degree camera, editing software for stitching footage, distribution through an online library of 360-video, as well as an app for viewing content in VR. The company has also been a pioneer in creating original, immersive experiences, boasting its own Los Angeles-based production studio.

In a fireside chat at Hardwired NYC, FirstMark’s Matt Turck spoke with Jaunt CEO Jens Christensen about his path to founding the ambitious company, his thoughts on the current VR landscape, and what’s ahead for the medium.

Below are a few takeaways from the excellent conversation:

Storytellers have not adapted: Christensen said most content creators haven’t quite cracked storytelling in VR. He said many fall back to their traditional training and make the mistake of putting the action in front of the camera, when there’s really no “front” of the camera.

“They’re not taking full advantage of the medium,” Christensen said.

Christensen said he’s looking to work with creators who are thinking through the possibilities of storytelling with VR, adding action at every angle.

“There are all types of opportunities in VR that people are just beginning to scratch the surface of,” he said.

Smartphones will be the main method of delivery: The number of smartphones dwarfs the number of VR headsets in the world and Christensen believes that will be true for some time, meaning most consumers will leverage their smartphones for the first wave of VR experiences. However, the devices will evolve to cater to those experiences. Christensen envisions a lightweight headset, similar to glasses, that connects to your smartphone. He expects such a headset to combine VR and augmented reality. The headset would deliver AR experiences like overlaying LinkedIn profile information for people, as well as VR experiences that transport the user into fully immersive content.

We’re not a camera company: In August, Jaunt began shipping what has been called “a beast of a virtual reality camera rig.” The NEO is aimed at professional filmmakers who want to make cinematic VR that pushes the limits of the technology. It’s a huge advantage at this time to offer a high-end camera, but ultimately the core of the business is software. “We said from day one, we’re not a camera company, we’re really a platform, content company. It wouldn’t surprise me if that’s not a business we’re in in five years.”

To hear more about Jaunt’s mission to create cinematic VR, see the full fireside chat from Hardwired NYC in the video above. To hear more great talks from FirstMark’s Driven events, visit our content library and subscribe on SoundCloud and iTunes.