Facebook introduced 360-degree videos to its newsfeed platform, allowing users to view a video from all directions. On Wednesday, the makers of Star Wars, NBC’s Saturday Night Live, Go Pro and others published the first batch of “360-Videos” as marketing materials.
Soon users will upload ‘360 Videos’
Users will get to see a war-torn wasteland of a far off planet in the Star Wars video and join the live audience during Saturday Night’s 40th anniversary. The GoPro video takes users for a dirt bike joy ride in the Idaho desert.
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Facebook’s top product executive, Chris Cox, mentioned on his Facebook page that ‘360 Videos’ is a “really cool experience,” and it takes viewers “somewhere else,” adding that very soon it will be possible for users to upload 360 Videos. To do this, they will need special 60-degree cameras, which cost around $400 or more. YouTube was the first to experiment with this kind of media when it started supporting 360-degree videos in March of this year.
Watching 360 Videos is very simple. While at a desktop computer, you can use the mouse to pan in any direction. On smartphones, users will have to tilt their devices to look in different directions. The new feature works best on a desktop computer at present. Smartphone users will probably get a message saying that 360 videos are not available for their devices as yet.
Facebook betting big on virtual reality
Facebook said that 360 Video works on Android devices, but CNNMoney in a quick test found it was not working yet. In the next few months, the feature will be made available to iOS devices according to the company. Facebook’s ‘360 Videos’ is a radical new way to experience media, indicating how close we are to seeing virtual reality turn into an everyday affair.
Facebook believes virtual reality to be the future. The social networker bought VR headset maker Oculus last year for $2 billion, but this is the firm’s first foray into virtual reality. Analysts point out that photographic videos and video games appear to be merging today. Videos are generally one-way conversations, while video games are interactive play by definition. For now, Facebook has introduced 360-degree videos just to increase user interaction, but who knows what the future holds.