Mark Zuckerberg made a surprise appearance at Samsung’s Galaxy Unpacked Event at MWC in Barcelona to talk about virtual reality and 360 videos. He revealed that the Oculus Store now boasts more than 200 games and apps, and people have watched more than one million hours of video using Samsung’s Gear VR headset. Facebook acquired Oculus two years ago and seems intent on extending virtual reality beyond gaming.
“VR is going to be the most social platform. Now, that’s also why we’ve worked with Samsung to deliver Gear VR. Gear VR is by far the best mobile VR experience,” explained Zuckerberg. “And that’s because it combines the best hardware, from Samsung, with the best software — from Facebook, with Oculus.”
Facebook is still working out how best to develop new virtual reality experiences and has created a Social VR team dedicated to the task. Zuckerberg hailed Samsung for providing the best mobile hardware, singling out the OLED screens. He revealed that more than 20,000 360 videos have been uploaded to Facebook already.
The social media giant has developed dynamic streaming technology, so that VR videos can play faster and look clearer, which could pave the way for people to attend live and remote events from the comfort of their own homes using a VR headset. Samsung’s Gear 360 camera, which was also revealed at the show, allows people to shoot their own virtual reality videos. We may soon be capturing precious moments in 360 degrees and streaming them via Facebook to family and friends.
“I think about my baby daughter and the way I want to remember when she takes her first steps. When I took my first steps, my parents just took a pen and wrote the date down in a baby book … when my cousin, when her son took his first steps, she took a photo with a camera. My sister, when her son took his first steps, she took a video on her phone. But I want to capture the whole scene. So I hope we can take a 360 video,” Zuckerberg enthused. “That way, even if my parents and my family aren’t there to experience it in person, they can feel like they’re right there with us. VR is the next platform, where anyone can create and experience anything they want.”
Samsung’s Gear VR headset launched in November 2015 and was developed through a partnership with Oculus. It requires a Samsung phone to work and it’s compatible with the Galaxy Note 5, S6 Edge Plus, S6, S6 Edge, and, of course, the newly unveiled S7 and S7 Edge.
“There are lots of other challenges that we need to solve to create great VR experiences,” said Zuckerberg. “Facebook, with Oculus, are committed to this for the long term.”
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