The tech industry seems to be on a virtual reality kick here recently, and we’ve seen companies like Google (with YouTube 360-degree videos) and GoPro (with the 16-camera Odyssey virtual reality rig) fully embrace immersive viewing technologies that put you at the center of the action. Today, Facebook is the latest to give Internet users a new way to experience content by bringing 360-degree videos directly to the News Feed.
Facebook users can experience 360-degree videos on Internet browsers using your typical notebook or desktop computer, and via mobile devices like iPhones and Android smartphones. Using a traditional Internet browser, you can drag the cursor to change the angle of the video. With a mobile device, you can simply drag with your finger or use your device’s built-in accelerometer to turn/tilt your device to call up a different view.
“In the future, imagine watching 360 videos of a friend’s vacation to a small village in France or a festival in Brazil — you’ll be able to look around and experience it as if you were there,” said Maher Saba, Facebook’s Engineering Director for Video. “Along with updates from your friends and family, you will also be able to discover amazing new content on Facebook from media companies, organizations, and individual creators.”
As we are at the dawn of the 360-degree video era, there isn’t exactly a cornucopia of content available to view right now. However, Saba does note that there are some sample 360-degree videos to check out from Discovery, GoPro, Saturday Night Live and an exclusive 360-degree video experience from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It may take quite a few years before the hardware needed for 360-degree content creation is accessible for everyday consumers (the GoPro Odyssey costs $15,000), so we’ll have to rely on the professionals to deliver us content for now.
Interestingly enough, Facebook says that user that use browsers or Android to access Facebook will “soon” see 360-degree videos in their New Feed. However, iOS user will have to wait months to join in on the fun.