Cameras

Flickr wants to put you inside VR photos

File photo - An attendee wearing an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset plays in a virtual volleyball game at the Intel booth during the 2015 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada Jan. 6, 2015.

File photo - An attendee wearing an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset plays in a virtual volleyball game at the Intel booth during the 2015 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada Jan. 6, 2015.  (REUTERS/Steve Marcus)

Looking at photos on our flat, rectangular screens may one day seem as antiquated as flipping through printed scrapbooks, or at least it will if Flickr's latest project works out. At the XOXO Festival in Portland, Oregon, the photo sharing network revealed its plans to immerse users in photographs using virtual reality headsets.

The demonstrations, according to Engadget, were conducted on an Oculus DK 2 headset that was hooked up to a PC. Wearing the headset, users rotated themselves a full 360 degrees to look at an entire photo, and navigated between images by looking "at a pair of pink and blue balls for a couple of seconds," a user interface cue based on Flickr's logo.

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While Flickr is far from launching this feature, the site's front-end architect Bertrand Fan told Engadget about plans for a VR navigation feature, where users can browse photos and manage their collections in this new interface. Fan also explained that Flickr's ambitions aren't tied to Oculus' hardware, and that he wants it to work with other headsets, including Samsung's Gear VR.

Panoramic photos, like the example above, often do not rotate a full 360 degrees, so photographers looking to capture these ultra-wide images are relying on photo stitching or cameras built specifically for this need. Even with those constraints, the 360° group on Flickr currently has over two thousand members, who have collectively uploaded over eighteen thousand photos to date. 

Flickr's plan for immersive photos is similar to the mobile app that Facebook is reportedly planning, where viewers will rotate their phones to look around panoramic 360-degree photos. Fan said Flickr plans to let users who own VR equipment to engage with these photos through its website, by clicking on a VR button or link, and donning a headset.

Virtual reality is having a big week; in addition to these upcoming social network features, The Sleepy Hollow VR Experience for the Oculus DK2 is the first virtual reality project to win an Emmy award.