Facebook is making efforts to bring virtual reality to mobile phones, and for this it is working on a stand-alone video app capable of supporting 360-degree or “spherical” videos, says a report from The Wall Street Journal, which cites sources aware of the matter. The format of the app will allow users to change their viewing perspective simply by tilting their phones.
A cross-platform app
The app would function on many platforms, including the iOS and Android operating systems, says the report. Facebook has already started working on this confidential project, and the app is in the early stages of development. As of now, it is not known whether the company will launch the app or not, and if yes, then when. There is no comment from Facebook about the story yet.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has repeatedly called virtual reality the next “computing platform.” Zuckerberg will be hoping the Oculus headset will power and support a host of new “immersive” experiences ranging from virtual doctors’ appointments to live concerts, to court-side seats at a basketball game.
Earlier this year, the Facebook CEO said spherical videos will get support from Facebook in its News Feed, thus allowing users to view it from different angles by moving around inside the video.
Facebook CEO has big plans for VR
Over the last three decades, all the hype around virtual reality got waned, but after Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus VR, the segment has witnessed new signs of life. Oculus’ first consumer version of the Rift headset is expected to ship by the first quarter of next year.
On Friday, Deutsche Bank analyst Ross Sandler said in a research note, “Oculus firmly believes that VR will initially be popular with hard-core gamers and enthusiasts who are willing to invest in high-end desktop computers for gaming for the next two years.” And it might take few years for Zuckerberg’s vision to play out as it is lot broader than this, noted Sandler.
The immersive experience offered by a mobile video app will be less than that of a headset but will be more helpful in extending Facebook’s presence in virtual reality beyond Oculus and to a much larger audience. Oculus will be able to sell about 1.5 million handsets next year, estimates Deutsche Bank.
Apart from Facebook, other tech firms foraying in the virtual space are Microsoft, Google, Samsung and Sony.