Whaaat?

“VR is the next platform, where anyone can create and experience anything they want,” said Zuckerberg. “Pretty soon, we’re going to live in a world where everyone has the power to share and experience whole scenes as if you’re just right there in person.”

Tell me more!

Zuckerberg was speaking at a Samsung event held to launch two new smartphones and where the South Korean company also unveiled a new 360-degree still and video camera called the Gear 360.

The two companies started working together last year, and in November Samsung launched the $99 Gear VR headset. Users clip in a compatible Samsung Galaxy smartphone to be able to take virtual adventures.

Facebook added support for such video last year and Zuckerberg said there are already 20,000 360-degree videos on on Facebook.

“We’ve only just started to explore what’s possible with video and VR,” he said. “It’s still really early.”

To help push the technology forward, Facebook recently formed a number of engineering teams to create new social VR applications, he said.

Zuckerberg credited Samsung for helping come up with some of the hardware components required. He said engineers at Oculus and Facebook are also working on reducing network-related challenges.

One recent innovation involves streaming just the part of the video being viewed rather than the entire 360-degree view. That’s helped engineers realize a 4x increase in the quality of video while reducing bandwidth consumption by three-quarters, he said.

Zuckerberg said Facebook and Oculus are committed to VR “for the long term” and new VR games are among the new experiences coming this year.

My 2 cents:

Not to claim I said so, but I did say VR was going to be the big thing in 2016 (though with Apple’s Open Letter, privacy is back on the table). VR has been a lot of talk and disappointing and expensive dev. kits to date, but Zuckerberg’s announcement and Facebook’s actions are the first points to work with. VR will mean immersive experiences in the Facebook platform: media streaming and gaming, which is pretty different from Microsoft’s functional stance on Hololens. Also, notice Samsung’s presence and Apple’s more glaring lack of presence…

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