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September 15, 2015

Facebook Developing App for Viewing 360-Degree Video

A recent industry report says Facebook is developing a mobile app for Android and iOS that will allow users to watch “spherical” video. This would give mobile users access to a 360-degree view of a scene, similar to that which they would find with a virtual reality headset.

Of course, this extension to mobile should not come as a surprise, given that Facebook recently acquired Oculus VR last year. That hefty purchase of $2 billion, Fortune reports, will first lead to launch of an Oculus Rift headset in early 2016, and it could lead to a public release of this new mobile app soon after. For the time being, the spherical video app remains in early development stages, but it could show promise and make its way to handsets everywhere.

Thanks to companies such as ImmerVision, which launched its 6K-quality 360-degree camera system this summer, all video producers lucky enough to grab one of these special cameras can create their own immersive video scenes. Automobile races can show the track and fans in a continuous shot; news reports can capture entire scenes without the need for multiple broadcasts of the same events.

Although widespread use of these types of cameras may still be several years away, that reality has not stopped Facebook from supporting the new technology. Forbes also notes that Facebook announced in March that its News Feed would support 360-degree video. This app is simply an extension of that intention.

Facebook has previously noted that its “Oculus Experiences” are pushing the boundaries of how users can experience video entertainment. Three-dimensional video games, for instance, have given way to the possibility of 3D movies that could range from action films to documentaries.

With this new app, users will not yet be able to create their own high-definition spherical videos. They will, at least, have the pleasure of viewing them to the extent their mobile handsets make possible. One wonders whether or not current mobiles can stand against the immersive technology found in Oculus, but for a 2x6 piece of plastic and glass that fits in a pocket, any progress on this front is bound to be amazing.

Edited by Dominick Sorrentino

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