Facebook's rolling out a new video posting option which is another advance towards full virtual reality social. And while we're not quite at that next level just yet, the new 3D-180 video option for Facebook is another step - and it may prove an important one at that.
Now, you're not going to get the full, immersive experience of this video without a VR headset, but if you have one, you can check out this example post and see how the new 3D element adds depth to the playback.
As explained by Facebook:
"3D-180 videos immerse your audience in scenes with a full 180-degree wide-angle view in News Feed, and gain extra dimension with 3D depth when viewed in VR. 3D-180 videos are easy to shoot, giving creators control over framing and eliminating the challenge of stitching. This will enable you to think about scenes that naturally work best in 180 degrees by allowing you to determine the exact frame you want to capture and share – such as when you’re filming a live event like a football game or a concert, recording a cooking show or shooting a documentary, like our example here with this friendly sloth in Panama."
You can upload a 3D-180 video through your Page via the video upload flow, or through 360 Director for Profiles.
Of course, a level of technical experience will still come in handy, both in shooting and uploading such content, but Facebook is seeking to simplify the process, and make such options available to all.
It's certainly an interesting experience, and one that will serve a larger purpose in Facebook's ongoing development.
If you ask Mark Zuckerberg, he'll tell you that virtual reality is the future of social media.
As Zuckerberg noted late last year:
"VR can put people first, it's about imagining the world as it could be."
And certainly, he's putting his money where his mouth is - already tied into VR through the purchase of Oculus, Facebook plans to invest an addition $3 billion into VR tools over the next decade, and more if it takes off as they expect.
The logic here seems fairly sound - people gravitate towards the digital sharing options which best enable them to capture the moment. That started with text, then shifted to images, and now we're in the midst of the video shift. The next level is augmented reality, which we're already seeing in various forms - but the extension of that, and what will truly enable people to share their experience, is VR. So long as it's accessible to everyone.
That's where tools like this come in. As noted, while we're still a long way off full VR adoption, largely constrained by cost and functionality, additions like 3D-180 videos are stepping stones, the trails that will lead us to the next phase, that will usher consumers through to that more immersive digital environment.
It doesn't seem like Facebook's social VR play 'Spaces' is going to become a thing, it's still a bit hokey, a bit geeky (not too mention data-hungry) to see mainstream adoption.
But these are all gradual advances, tools that provide a glimpse, that get early adopters interested, and which will eventually lead to more widespread adoption.
3D-180 content is likely a better bridge than Spaces, in that it will provide more practical benefit, while it also better showcases what VR can do. Of course, not many people have a VR headset yet, so not a heap will be able to get the full effect of such posts. But as more tools like this are rolled out, and VR headsets become more affordable, you can bet that more people will also get interested in seeing what's on offer.
3D-180 posts offer a taste - and that could prove very important in the broader scheme.