For the first time, Facebook’s $2 billion acquisition of virtual reality leader Oculus VR, is starting to bear fruit.
The social network has announced that 360-degree videos are now viewable on news feeds. While Facebook led development for 360-degree capability, the team collaborated with its Oculus division in order to create Facebook's first consumer-facing VR product, the company’s chief product officer, Chris Cox, told The Verge.
If you’ve never experienced 360-degree video before, prepare to be blown away. On desktops, the technology allows users to click and drag around a scene in order to see things from every angle. But on mobile (the update is only available for Android devices thus far), the experience is even more seamlessly immersive, as scenery changes in accordance with how users position their phones in space.
Facebook is rolling out the technology with a handful of publishing partners including Saturday Night Live, Vice and Star Wars -- which even released a brand new scene from the upcoming The Force Awakens film to mark the occasion. See for yourself right here:
Star Wars: The Force Awakens Immersive 360 Experience
Speed across the Jakku desert from Star Wars: The Force Awakens with this immersive 360 experience created exclusively for Facebook.Posted by Star Wars on Wednesday, September 23, 2015
While anyone can upload 360-degree videos to Facebook, the cameras required to shoot this kind of footage will still set you back a pretty penny.
“In the future, imagine watching 360 videos of a friend’s vacation to a small village in France or a festival in Brazil,” writes Facebook’s engineering director of video, Maher Saba, of potential future uses as the technology becomes more mainstream. “You’ll be able to look around and experience it as if you were there.”
Facebook isn’t the first platform to foray into 360-degree video. After announcing 360-degree support last March, YouTube recently said it would be adding 3-D capability into the mix.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has long been vocal about his enthusiasm for VR, and has said that devices like Oculus could become the next major computing platform after smartphones.
“In the future we'll probably still carry phones in our pockets,” he said in a Q&A last June, “but I think we'll also have glasses on our faces that can help us out throughout the day and give us the ability to share our experiences with those we love in completely immersive and new ways that aren't possible today.”