Mark Zuckerberg announced the latest update to streaming Gear VR 360° videos.
At Samsung’s Barcelona Unpacked event, Zuckerberg took to the stage and reiterated the strong partnership Samsung and Facebook both have with the Gear VR platform. Zuckerberg shared his excitement for the future potential of virtual reality and how both companies are ready for VR being “the next platform” and the “most social platform.”
When it comes to mobile VR experiences, the Samsung Gear VR is definitely the best option on the market right now. According to Zuckerberg, it is because it combines the best hardware from Samsung and the best software from Facebook’s Oculus.
Now according to Zuckerberg, the VR software for 360-degree video playback on the Gear VR is getting a pretty exciting new update. Over the next few weeks, the social network will update its 360-degree videos with “dynamic streaming” inside the Oculus Video player. If the update works like stated, the change will result in VR video that is higher quality and uses less data when being watched with a Gear VR headset.
Oculus introduces “dynamic streaming” for 360 VR video in the clip below:
“Dynamic streaming” means Facebook will process and store all of its 360° videos in multiple resolutions. So when you are watching the video, only the best version will be shown for the spot you’re actually looking at – the rest is a lower resolution file that’s automatically swapped out as you look left and right.
According to Zuckerberg, this means that Facebook will quadruple the resolution quality of 360° streaming video in VR, while also reducing the amount of required bandwidth by four times – giving us clearer and faster playback in this portable headset. Reduced network bandwidth is a needed optimization aside from quality considering videos will be watched on a smartphone that may not always have access to wifi.
Zuckerberg also gave us a few new stats to digest on stage, stating that over 1 million hours of video have been watched in the Gear VR to date. When it came to the social network, he shared that “over a million people are watching 360° videos every day on Facebook and over 20,000 360-degree videos have been uploaded to the platform.”
As Facebook works with Samsung to push the whole state of the technology forward, Zuckerberg ended by sharing that Facebook has created a “Social VR team” at Facebook. It is not clear exactly what that means considering Facebook is an inherently social company, but the idea is to explore the “future of social interaction in VR” with a team led by Mike Booth, best known as the designer of Left 4 Dead, and Daniel James, who worked on a multiplayer online game called Puzzle Pirates.
As other social platforms like Twitter and Snapchat start to explore integrating 360° video into their platforms, Facebook already has a head start leading the pack to continue evolving from 360° video to more interactive and social VR experiences for their users.