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Business News/ Tech-news / News/  Facebook explores virtual reality experience on social media platforms
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Facebook explores virtual reality experience on social media platforms

The aim is to create a solution for people to connect with each other with virtual reality experience

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks during a press conference presenting Samsung’s new Galaxy 7 mobile device, on the eve of the official opening of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on 21 February. Photo: AFP Premium
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks during a press conference presenting Samsung’s new Galaxy 7 mobile device, on the eve of the official opening of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on 21 February. Photo: AFP

New Delhi: Facebook Inc. has put together a dedicated team of researchers to explore the idea of people interacting on social media platforms in virtual reality (VR) mode.

In a blog post on Sunday, Facebook said it has created a Social VR team at Facebook focused “entirely on exploring the future of social interaction in VR".

This team will explore how people can connect and share using today’s VR technology, as well as long-term possibilities as VR evolves into an increasingly important computing platform. It will work closely with Oculus and other teams at Facebook to build the foundation for social VR experiences on all platforms.

“We’ve already helped people connect in a wide variety of ways on mobile devices — ranging from Facebook and Instagram to Messenger and WhatsApp — and now we want to apply that same approach to the new medium of VR," said the company in as statement. “As we continue to make big breakthroughs in the technology behind VR, we’re also investing in efforts to explore immersive new VR experiences that will help people connect and share."

The aim is to create a solution for people to connect with each other with virtual reality experience.

“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," the company said.

Facebook bought Irvine, California-based Oculus VR Inc. in March 2014 to move into the VR space and partnered with Samsung for VR tools later that year.

Samsung’s virtual reality device Samsung Gear VR, which is powered by Oculus was launched in November.

According to Facebook, there are more than 200 games and apps available for the platform in the Oculus store, and people have already watched more than a million hours of video in Gear VR.

Facebook is also working to make the video watching experience in VR more immersive.

“We’ve also been developing new technology that will make video in virtual reality work even better. 360 video on Facebook is the first step — it allows you to look around and feel like you’re present while watching a video, whether it’s surfing in Tahiti or exploring the surface of Mars," it said.

Facebook said the technology for 360 video will be integrated in Gear VR.

“It’s a more efficient way of delivering 360 videos, showing only the pixels you’re actually looking at in the highest quality, instead of delivering the entire 360 video in high resolution," said the company.

To make this work, it plans to create dozens of variants for every 360 video that gets uploaded on Facebook, each tailored to a specific viewing angle. The idea is to display the variant to a user who is watching the video based on where the user is looking.

“By doing this, we’ve quadrupled the resolution quality of 360 streaming video in VR by reducing the amount of required network bandwidth by 4x — so videos look clearer and play faster," the company said. “We’re excited to bring this to Gear VR in the next few weeks."

However, the world’s largest social networking firm said, its work in VR is still in its early days, and there are several “hardware and software challenges" that need to be solved.

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Published: 22 Feb 2016, 10:29 PM IST
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