What was the weirdest thing about Samsung’s Unpacked event last night in Barcelona, Spain? It might have been when Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg took to the stage to explain a little more about what the company’s going to be doing in the virtual reality (VR) space. With Samsung, of course. Zuck didn’t pull a Kanye or anything.
Or perhaps that’s not that strange. The Oculus Rift (which is owned by Facebook) is on sale, the HTC Vive has been priced and Sony’s VR headset is on the way. Not to mention the Gear VR from Samsung themselves, which is based on Oculus tech. It’s all part of a broader shift to more immersive content and Facebook have just outlined the next few steps. Oh, and of course Facebook is working hard to give Google’s YouTube a proper run for its advertising money in the online video stakes.
Like YouTube, users have been able to access 360-degree video on Facebook for some time. More than 20,000 video presentations (some better than others) are available and all of them work with VR headsets. The experience is… quite striking. And Facebook is bringing that tech to Samsung’s Gear VR headset. Rather, they’re using a dynamic streaming tech to make the Gear VR experience a better one while reducing bandwidth consumption – a feature which is a bigger deal in South Africa than many other countries. Mobile data is expensive, yo. /nineties.
Zuckerberg also announced the formation of a ‘Social VR’ team, in partnership with Samsung, which is being dedicated to “…exploring the future of social interaction in VR.” Whatever they come up with will be shared with Samsung, with the Gear VR (and presumably the Oculus Rift) acting as a platform for whatever’s on the way.
“In the future, VR will enable even more types of connection — like the ability for friends who live in different parts of the world to spend time together and feel like they’re really there with each other.” Yeah, that sounds like the future to us.