As far as smartphone-powered virtual reality is concerned, few devices have achieved the performance of Samsung’s Gear VR. The headgear has seen several variations so far, and now it’s getting upgraded thanks to Facebook’s team.
Over the next few weeks, Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook will update 360-degree videos to include “dynamic streaming” for the Oculus Video player. If all goes according to the plan, the change should give us VR videos with higher quality that occupy space more efficiently on the lightweight device.
When using “dynamic streaming” Facebook will have to process and store all of its videos in several resolutions. So when you’re looking at a spot, you’re viewing it in the best uploaded version.
If you want for some reason to see the lower resolution file that’s automatically, that will be swapped out as you look left and right. According to a Facebook spokesperson, this method has allowed the social network to “quadruple the resolution quality of 360 streaming video in VR.”
Fortunately, Facebook has also reduced the amount of required bandwidth by as much as four times, resulting in clearer videos that also play a lot faster.
Since the Gear VR has been designed to be perfectly portable, this adaptive streaming should also enable people to lower their data consumption – and keep it under their monthly cap.
Coinciding with this announcement, Facebook – the owner of Oculus VR since the $2 billion in 2014 – has also released a few fresh figures. The Oculus store has reached its 200 games milestone, and more than a million hours of VR video have been viewed via Gear VR.
These sound like some very promising figures, particularly as they will drive pre-orders for the consumer Rift. And to bring it to full circle, Facebook has also announced the creation of a Social VR team.
Does it sound a bit unnecessary since Facebook is at its origins a social company? Maybe, but the company’s reasoning was that the team will help them explore the “future of social interaction in VR.”
The team is in good hands; Mike Booth, one of the best designers behind Left 4 Dead, and Daniel James, which developed the multiplayer online game called Puzzle Pirates, are in charge. However, the details about the nature of their work are still unclear.
Facebook says the future of this department will be in line with their motto of helping people “connect and share,” just like Instagram and Messenger already does.
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