Intel’s New Virtual Reality Content Studio Is Partnering With the Winter Olympics

But how will the company address its recent security concerns?

The filming can be shot in one take rather than using a complex stitching process that’s common with many VR filmmakers today.

Just a year after debuting a standalone virtual reality headset, Intel is pivoting away from hardware and into VR content.

At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Intel announced that it’s opening a new studio in Los Angeles to create immersive content that allows viewers to walk within a space in VR rather than passively standing in place while watching a 360-degree film. The studio, called Intel Studios, will allow the company to better capture volumetric video, an emerging format that lets people exist within a three-dimensional scene.

“Think of it as having a VR headset where you’re walking through a video game or a stadium or something else,” said Intel CMO Steve Fund. “But we can capture that actually without VR and without even having to have a headset on.”

According to Fund, the filming can be shot in one take rather than using a complex stitching process that’s common with many VR filmmakers today.

The studio already has hefty partners like Paramount Pictures and the 2018 Winter Olympics. Plans for the Paramount partnership have not not been revealed. However, at next month’s winter Olympics in South Korea, Intel plans to shoot VR content for 19 Olympic sports across over 30 events, bringing home viewers closer to the action through a partnership with NBC. The company has also installed cameras in various sports stadiums in the U.S. and Europe through partnerships ranging from the NBA and NCAA to the Spanish soccer league LaLiga.

Tonight at CES, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich will announce the studio during a keynote talk at the Las Vegas Convention Center. However, while the time slot is prime real estate in a city where more than 4,000 companies are converging this week to tout their tech, the timing is less than ideal for Intel. Last week, the company revealed it had discovered two major security flaws in its processor, potentially allowing hackers to access information on a massive number of devices ranging from Microsoft laptops to Apple iPhones.

Asked how it plans to address the security concerns even as it gets into more complex technology such as VR—along with other announcements related to data, artificial intelligence and self-driving cars—Fund declined, directing instead to existing statements the company released last week.

“I think it’s more of a question for Brian,” he said. “Obviously, there’s been a lot of communication that we’ve put out there, and that’s just more of a product-oriented question for Brian or the technical folks.”

However, it isn’t just a product concern. While people have often bought technology in the past trusting the “Intel inside,” the bug also raises a marketing concern to retain trust.

Jeff Pollard, a principal analyst at Forrester, said companies need to remember three things often happen with highly publicized cybersecurity issues: They don’t go away quickly, they often happen at inopportune times and they “overshadow everything else” that a company does for a while. He said Intel’s consumer-centric news this week won’t entirely suffer, but they will be clouded by ongoing coverage of the bugs known as Meltdown and Spectre.

“Put simply, Intel has cybersecurity PR Debt,” he said. “It will take an unimaginable amount of CES ‘magic’ to escape Meltdown and Spectre. Worse for Intel, they are unfairly the corporate face of Spectre, despite the fact that it is not Intel specific.

At last year’s CES, Intel entered the hardware VR arms race with a headset of its own, nicknamed Project Alloy—a wireless “merged reality” beta model that looked and felt similar to a cordless Oculus Rift or HTC Vive. While Intel’s decision to cancel plans of shipping its own VR headset in the fourth quarter of last year might seem like a way of escaping the already-crowded and competitive set of VR headsets, Funds said the company wants to be “hardware agnostic.”

“I think it’s a content play,” he said. “There is not enough quality content out there today. I think content will drive the adoption. I think it starts with live sports, because it literally does let you feel like you are there live.”

The play is a valid one. Both media companies dabbling in VR and hardware companies building headsets say more compelling VR content is still needed to drive interest in the emerging medium. Meanwhile, more headsets and more content are expected in 2018—with new VR shows coming from both from tradition TV networks, but also from independent VR producers.

“I think 2018 is going to be a make-or-break year for VR, to be honest,” said Gartner analyst Brian Blau. “I’m still a little concerned, because we haven’t seen any inflection point yet.”