While no one really thinks of Facebook as a Virtual Reality company, the fact that they bought VR juggernaut Oculus Rift for a reported 2 Billion last year, means that they certainly have plans to be.
And, probably in a very big way.
When the acquisition was first announced, many who study the industry were perplexed.
Why would a social media company, who makes it’s money primarily through advertising, invest such a large amount in technology that had little to do with expanding it’s advertising platform?
We may have been given a taste of what Facebook has in store with a recent report from the Wall Street Journal that Facebook is working on a stand-alone smartphone app that would support 360 degree videos.
In March, Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who has reportedly called Virtual Reality the “next platform for computing” after mobile devices, said that Facebook would start to support “Spherical Videos”, which would allow the user to change angle of the video and see it from different viewpoints.
The goal to blend Virtual Reality with smartphone video is an obvious choice for Facebook. So far this year, Facebook users have watched an average of four billion videos every day, which is up 400% from 2014.
According to the New York Daily News, Facebook has recently released it’s “Live” streaming video feature in it’s Mentions app to be available for journalists and other media professionals.
Even though Facebook has plans for the Oculus Rift headsets to be released early first quarter of 2016, which they plan to sell at least 1.5 million units, there is no doubt that they have been addressing other plans to add Virtual Reality to their current video offerings.
While the “Spherical Videos” that Facebook has planned may not have the full immersion of an Oculus Rift headset, we are willing to bet that the experience will be rich enough to turn lot of heads.
Of course, we haven’t even mentioned YouTube, owned by Facebook rival Google, which has also recently began supporting 360-degree videos.
In fact, while Facebook is still planning and developing it’s Spherical Video app, YouTube already has over 100 videos on it’s 360 degree category, featuring brands like Mountain Dew and even some independent film makers who are using the technology to stand out among their peers.
While the videos are very good while seen on a desktop, on a mobile device they are extremely cool because the videos are programmed to use the smartphone’s accelerometer to know what you’re looking at.
With the convergence of these technologies and social trends, it appears that we may all get a taste of virtual reality very soon, and special glasses may not be required.
Check out this video on how to make 360 Videos on YouTube