Facebook Launches 360-Degree Videos Into The News Feed

Facebook Launches 360-Degree Videos Into The News Feed

A beginner’s guide to VR for 1.5 billion people.

Though they’re not full virtual reality, 360-degree videos are at the vanguard of the VR revolution: They give a taste of what the technology can do, they’re relatively easy to make, and can be viewed in Web browsers and on smartphones without the need for an expensive headset.

YouTube has a channel dedicated to these clips and now Facebook is joining the party (a move Mark Zuckerberg promised back in March at F8). From today, these 360-degree videos are rolling out into the News Feed.

The format is exactly what it sounds like: As a 360 movie plays, you can rotate your point-of-view to peer in any direction, whether that’s by moving your head inside a Samsung Gear VR headset or clicking and dragging in a Web browser. On a smartphone, you swipe on screen or physically move the device, so holding it above your head shows the view above.

As VR aficionados will want to note, these videos differ from “full” virtual reality in a couple of key ways. There’s no depth perception (you feel like you’re in a video sphere rather than an actual world) and you can’t control the action or the position of the camera. Still, it’s a gentle introduction to the world of VR, and much more straightforward for both content creators and publishers.

Hence tools like the Sphericam 2. With a camera costing around a thousand dollars and a Facebook or YouTube account, anyone can now make and publish a 360-degree video, which isn’t something you could say about full VR experiences.

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