Mark Zuckerberg wants you to be able to share and experience content in virtual reality and has just announced there’s a new team at the company that is working on making that a literal reality.
Making a surprise appearance on stage at Samsung’s Galaxy S7 launch event at the Mobile World Congress on Sunday, Zuckerberg said Facebook’s new “social VR team” will be dedicated solely to researching and developing virtual reality for social networking — figuring out ways that virtual reality can help people connect.
"This team will explore how people can connect and share using today’s VR technology, as well as long-term possibilities as VR evolves into an increasingly important computing platform," a Facebook blog post said after the event. The post continued to say that the new team will work with Oculus and Samsung's Gear VR team to work out what the future of "social interactions" in VR should be.
Zuckerberg made his entrance to the Samsung event in Barcelona by walking through a crowd of journalists all wearing the VR headsets. The Facebook CEO talked up both companies' plans in virtual reality. Facebook paid some $2 billion in 2014 to buy Oculus, which has been working with Samsung on its Gear VR consumer headsets.
"Going back about 10 years, most of what we shared and experienced was text. And then it was photos. And now we're entering into a world where that's video. But 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 right there in person," Zuckerberg said.
“Imagine being able to sit in front of a campfire and hang out with friends anytime you want. Or being able to watch a movie in a private theater with your friends anytime you want. Imagine holding a group meeting or event anywhere in the world that you want. All these things are going to be possible. 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.”
Zuckerberg also said Facebook's streaming technology for 360-degree video would be coming to Samsung Gear VR in the coming weeks, increasing the video resolution and requiring less bandwidth, allowing the videos to be even clearer and play faster.
Facebook has been selling the Gear VR for $99, though for the time being, it will be bundled for free to people who pre-order Samsung’s latest flagship phones, the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge.
Virtual Reality cameras keep getting smaller. Samsung has unveiled the Gear 360 camera, a pocket-sized camera that creates an immersive 360-degree experience. Samsung has yet to announce pricing or a release date for the camera.