While Facebook’s Oculus division is focused on enabling immersive virtual reality experiences through a wearable headset, the social media giant is also developing a smartphone app that immerses the user in a 360-degree video environment, per The Wall Street Journal, citing sources familiar with the work.
However, Facebook didn’t confirm the report.
If the reports are true, Facebook’s push to bring immersive video to smartphones comes amid a fierce struggle for control of online video in general, pitting the social media network against Google’s YouTube.
Google’s Cardboard system, introduced last year, turns smartphones into basic VR devices with the help of a simple cardboard headset, and Facebook’s immersive app could be partly intended to compete in the same arena.
Facebook unveiled its first 360-degree videos at the F8 developer conference in March. These immersive videos could also serve as a way to introduce people to some of the elements of VR, building awareness and interest for full VR experiences provided by devices like Oculus.
The immersive videos are produced with special camera rigs, with two dozen cameras arranged in spherical form, capable of capturing multiple simultaneous video streams. On a desktop, users can pan around the video for different views using their mouse, but a smartphone app should allow them to do the same simply by tilting the device.
Of course, where technology goes, porn will soon follow.
A company called VirtualPorn360.com recently introduced the first commercial app for 360-degree adult video for virtual reality devices and smartphones as well as PCs. Separately, one of the leading 360-degree cameras, 360fly, is coming to big-box retail through a partnership with Best Buy.