Virtual Reality is no longer a technology of the future as VR-like videos could soon be popping up in your Facebook feed. Mark Zuckerberg showed off new "Spherical Videos" that Facebook is testing and plans to make available "soon" in users' news feeds as well as via the Oculus Rift virtual reality headsets.
The new videos will allow users to move around 360 degrees within the video creating an interactive virtual reality environment much like a 3D video game. Zuckerberg announced the immersive videos during his opening keynote speech at the Facebook F8 Developer Conference in San Francisco on March 25.
Facebook is demoing a spherical video of the company's Menlo Park headquarters at the F8 conference. "You can move around inside the video, and view it from different angles," Zuckerberg demonstrated.
The immersive videos are shot by 24 separate cameras working together to create a 360 degree view of the environment. Zuckerberg said that these videos were simply the first step towards even more immersive virtual reality videos that Facebook plans to release on the Oculus Rift VR headsets. "You're going to be able to put on your Oculus headset and feel like you're really there," Zuckerberg added.
More details on the Oculus Rift videos will likely be unveiled when the product's chief technology officer, Mike Schroepfer, gives his keynote address on March 26. Facebook acquired Schroepfer's company last year and is wasting no time in incorporating Oculus Rift technology into its primary business.
For now though, Spherical Videos will be viewable through regular browsers and Facebook mobile apps. Zuckerberg said that people already view more than 3 billion videos per day on Facebook and admitted that it was "some of the most engaging content on the platform". Facebook is inviting third-party publishers to create their own spherical videos for sharing across Newsfeed.
Given the expenses involved in filming with 24 specialized cameras it might take some time before these videos become commonplace in the Facebook feed. Still, it was probably the most novel announcement and shows that Zuckerberg, like many others, believes that VR will play a vital role in online video over the next few years. Google also announced on March 13 this month that YouTube now supports similar 360 degree videos.