Facebook Tests Immersive Video Newsfeed

“‘Curiouser and curiouser,’ Cried Alice.” Get ready to go down the rabbit hole and through the looking glass: Facebook is testing “spherical videos,” which create a fully immersive 360-degree video experience for users similar to 3D games, as part of the newsfeed, founder Mark Zuckerberg revealed at the most recent annual F8 developer conference on Wednesday.

Users who choose to immerse themselves can manipulate the view in the interactive videos by panning around with their mouse button. The immersive videos are produced with two dozen cameras arranged in spherical form, and Facebook provided a video of its headquarters ias an example.

As Wired points out, the video looks a little weird on a conventional flat screen, but will presumably look much cooler on the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, which Facebook snapped up for a cool $2 billion in March 2014.

That acquisition came as something of a surprise at the time, as industry watchers tried to figure out what, exactly, Facebook was up to -- a foray into 3D gaming? Virtual social networking spaces like Second Life? Now this latest announcement gives some idea what the company has in mind (although the other options are definitely still on the table, as Facebook also demonstrated some neat 3D games and virtual worlds at F8). Wired quoted Zuckerberg: “You’re going to be able to put on your Oculus headset and view spherical videos there too.”



Zuckerberg explained the general rationale behind the foray into immersive video: “We need to build tools to support different types of content,” as “we’re starting to see traditional video blend with virtual reality.”

The company is encouraging developers and publishers to begin producing their own spherical videos as well -- but it’s not clear how much one of those 24-camera spherical devices will set you back.

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