Facebook improves video streaming in virtual reality

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Facebook has a new hobby: virtual reality. The social media giant began posting 360-degree videos several months ago, and it announced Sunday, Feb. 21, that it will share newly improved technology for these videos with Samsung.

Samsung Newsroom
People use the Samsung Gear VR to take a ride on a virtual roller coaster. The Gear VR, a virtual reality headset, will soon support Facebook’s technology for higher-quality 360-degree videos. (Samsung Newsroom)

 

Facebook’s 360-degree videos have allowed users to watch a video from any angle since September, and Samsung released the Gear VR, a virtual reality headset, two months later. The Gear VR has supported Facebook’s 360-degree videos since the headset hit the market, but Facebook recently developed technology to improve the videos’ streaming quality.

“Our powerful dynamic streaming technology for 360 video is coming to Gear VR,” said a press release on newsroom.fb.com. “It’s a more efficient way of delivering 360 videos, showing only the pixels you’re actually looking at in the highest quality, instead of delivering the entire 360 video in high resolution.”

The Gear VR will begin using this technology, which quadruples resolution, within weeks.

Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, visited Samsung’s Mobile World Congress on Sunday to discuss the importance of virtual reality in the modern world.

“Pretty soon we’re going to live in a world where everyone has the power to share and experience whole scenes as if you’re just there, right there in person,” Zuckerberg said. “And that’s why Facebook is investing so much early on in virtual reality. So we can hope to deliver these types of social experiences.”

Samsung and Facebook have already collaborated to bring virtual reality to the market. The Gear VR is powered by Oculus, a virtual reality startup that Facebook acquired in 2014, and Facebook operates the Oculus Store that sells apps to Gear VR users.

“Our work in VR is still early, and there are a lot of hardware and software challenges that we still need to solve,” the press release said. “But we’re encouraged by our progress to date, and we’re excited to continue building VR technology that gives people new ways to connect and share.”

 

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