Facebook Brings 360-degree Video to News Streams – Virtual Social Networking Coming Soon?

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We are living in a world which is gradually headed towards full immersive virtual reality. While VR has yet to explode in popularity, in a few years we may be singing an entirely different tune. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg is clearly intrigued by the future of VR, which can be seen by Facebook’s purchase of Oculus VR back in March of 2014 for a staggering $2 billion. Today we got a glimpse at yet another area in which Facebook hopes to merge reality with the virtual world.

In an announcement earlier today Facebook revealed that, through a collaboration with Oculus, they will now be supporting 360-degree video within their news feeds. For those unfamiliar with this form of media, it’s basically a video which has been filmed from multiple angles, allowing users to change their point of view by a single swipe of their finger or even movement of their smartphone or tablet.

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Back in March Youtube announced support for such video, and to date there are thousands of such videos available on the video service. Facebook’s entrance into the space in an interesting one as it could ultimately be a precursor for social virtual reality, where users are actually able to share their world with their friends in a virtual environment.

For now, Facebook has teamed with multiple brands, including GoPro, Lebron James, Saturday Night Live, Vice, Star Wars and Discovery to roll out the new media format. The videos will work via the web as well as on Android devices, and Facebook says that iOS compatibility is only a few months away.

“If you’re using Facebook on the web or on Android, you should be able to see 360 videos in News Feed soon,” Facebook stated in a blog post today. “We plan to roll this out for iOS in the coming months. It’s early days, but we’re excited about the possibilities for 360 video and hope it helps people explore the world in new, immersive ways.”

f5For those with an Android device that features gyroscopic technology, they will be able to view these video and simply turn their phones to get a different viewing angle. While some individuals are likely frothing at the mouth at the prospects of using such video in VR devices to turn their friends environments into their own virtual realms, there still is much work to be done to get to this point. For one, virtual reality headsets require two videos filmed close to one another so that both eyes get a slightly different view. Meanwhile, cameras capable of filming at 360 degrees start at around $800, meaning that those wishing produce this sort of content need to be willing to dish out the cash that’s required.

Regardless of price, this form of media will only continue to pick up its pace of adoption, and undoubtedly we will eventually see equipment capable of producing content for VR headsets come to market at reasonable prices. With Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus VR, virtual social networking is likely only a few short years away. For an example of these new 360-degree videos check out a sample here.

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