Facebook on Sunday announced a few updates regarding its virtual reality (VR) efforts. The biggest social media firm informed fans that it has established a formal Social VR team to build on the achievements of Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp.
Facebook’s new team will obviously collaborate with the Facebook-owned Oculus group, which developed the Oculus Rift headset and the software that underlies the Samsung Gear VR headset.
In a blog post, the social network said, “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.”
Daniel James and Mike Booth are the leaders of the new team. James is the cofounder and CEO of Three Rings, which is the studio that developed the casual massively multiplayer online game Puzzle Pirates, while Booth is cofounder and CEO of Turtle Rock Studios, a company that developed the Left 4 Dead series of first-person shooter games.
Facebook backs Samsung Gear VR
On Sunday, Facebook made yet another announcement regarding the new growth statistics for the Samsung Gear VR. Until now, people have used the device for watching more than 1 million hours of video, and now there are more than 200 games and apps available via the Oculus Store, stated the blog post.
Google has not been able to achieve this scale with its Cardboard VR headset, of which it has shipped more than 5 million units. Google’s Cardboard was made available in mid-2014, while the Gear VR became available in November. Facebook’s backing for the Samsung Gear VR will help it work at scale.
Facebook intends to improve 360-degree video in VR, for which it will apply its know-how about intelligently streaming videos of that kind on desktop and mobile to the Gear VR.
“By doing this, we’ve quadrupled the resolution quality of 360 streaming video in VR, while reducing the amount of required network bandwidth by 4x — so videos look clearer and play faster,” the blog post read.
Also Facebook disclosed that users have already uploaded more than 20,000 360-degree videos to the service with “hundreds more added daily.”
In premarket trading today, Facebook shares were trading up. Year to date, the stock is down marginally, while in the last year, it is up by almost 31%.