Virtual reality is fast becoming the new reality for Facebook’s more than one billion users.
The social network announced Wednesday a new 360-degree video format, allowing users to watch videos from any angle.
Maher Saba, Facebook’s engineering director for video, called the addition a response to users enjoying “more immersive content in their News Feeds.”
“In the future, imagine watching 360 videos of a friend’s vacation to a small village in France or a festival in Brazil — you’ll be able to look around and experience it as if you were there,” he wrote in a statement.
Here’s how the videos work, per Facebook’s instructions:
To create 360 videos, a special set of cameras is used to record all 360 degrees of a scene simultaneously. This means that when the video is playing on Facebook, you can choose what angle you want to see it from. On the web you can do this by dragging around the video with your cursor, and on mobile devices you do it by dragging with your finger — or even just by turning your device. You’ll be able to hold up your phone and the 360 video will follow you as you turn, looking around, to experience things from all over the world like never before.
“It feels like using Google Maps’ Street View feature inside a video,” wrote The Verge’s Casey Newton, who said he visited Facebook on Tuesday to demo the new feature.
A number of companies are already sharing exclusive content in this new format, including Disney and Lucasfilm, which released an interactive video preview of the upcoming movie "Star Wars: The Force Awakens."
Apparently, if you want to examine the rubble of Afghanistan’s bombed Darul Aman Palace – as shown by VICE correspondent Ben Anderson – you now can.
And if you want to literally follow NBA champion LeBron James’ every move as he works out, that’s allowed too.
The interactive feature is a product of Oculus, the virtual reality firm Facebook acquired for $2 billion last March, reports The Christian Science Monitor.
Back then, founder Mark Zuckerberg had said, “This is really a new communication platform. By feeling truly present, you can share unbounded spaces and experiences with the people in your life. Imagine sharing not just moments with your friends online, but entire experiences and adventures.”
Facebook is currently rolling out its new video format on its web and Android versions. The company says it will be available for screening on iOS, Apple’s operating system for iPhones and iPads, in the next couple of months.