Social networking giant Facebook has introduced 360 degree videos in its news feed, where publishers like Star Wars, Discovery, GoPro, and NBC’s Saturday Night Live, along with other media companies, organizations, and individual creators will be able to publish 360 degree videos.
Facebook states that Disney and Lucasfilm are debuting an exclusive 360 experience from its upcoming movie Star Wars: The Force Awakens on the platform. It added that “people enjoy more immersive content in their News Feeds”, prompting it to launch 360 degree video. As of now, this feature as such will be available on the web and Android app, while support for iOS will be released in the coming months. 360 degree videos basically mean that users can “watch” a video in any direction, along with the perspective that it was initially shot in.
Facebook says that users will be able to choose the angle they want to see the video from, on web, this can be done by dragging around the video with the cursor and on mobile by dragging it with fingers, or turning the device. On mobile, if the user turns the phone, holding it up, the video will display angles the phone is in, throughout the 360 degrees of viewing.
In March, Facebook had introduced an embedded video player, a new social plugin that would enable publishers to embed native Facebook videos in a video player. Additionally, the platform previewed 360-degree videos in news feeds, that would let users choose the viewing angle to explore the surroundings.
In the same month, Google started allowing users to upload and view 360 degree videos to YouTube. At that time, it supported the following cameras: Giroptic 360cam, IC Real Tech Allie, Kodak SP360 and Ricoh Theta. However, the company mentioned that it would accept videos created by users using their own custom camera rigs and 3rd party stitching software like Kolor Autopano.
Google also added panoramic views of 31 monuments and Indian archaeological sites on Google Maps and the Google Cultural Institute. The company said that it had been working with the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) since last year and had added 76 monuments with 360-degree views.
While there has been no information on whether Facebook is sourcing VR/360 degree technology from Oculus, which it acquired for $2 billion in March last year, there has been growing interest in virtual reality (VR) across the globe. Samsung released a VR device, the Samsung Gear VR in collaboration with the Oculus VR in December last year, while Google offers Cardboard, which allows anybody to make their own VR headset. Steam, one of the biggest gaming platforms is working on SteamVR with HTC.
Vivek adds: 360 degree videos are the lead up to full blown VR experiences. As more content publishers and platforms offer 360 degree videos, ultimately leading to VR, issues like targeted consumers and content availability are likely to get addressed over time.