Back in the 90s we were promised virtual reality that would free us from our body and allow our minds to travel to any destination, real or imaginary. Such technologies proved elusive and never came to much. That was until now. Oculus is here to change all that. And no, it does not look like the Lawnmower Man.
It is by pure accident that I write about this revolution today as I never expected to own a Samsung Gear VR. While upgrading my mobile phone I was offered the headset as a free gift after switching mobile phone providers. Out of curiosity I accepted.
What I did not know was that I was accepting a glimpse into the future of entertainment and communication.
How does the Oculus Gear VR work?
The Samsung Gear VR is brilliantly simple. In essence it is a plastic phone holder that mounts on to your head and splits the screen of the phone for each eye. The eye holes are basically magnifying lenses that zoom into the screen of your handset. The bottom of the Samsung S7 clips into the headset via a port allowing you to use the control pad on the side of the headset to navigate the apps and games.
While mounted in the headset your phone’s display splits into two square images that align with the view finder. These two images create a stereoscopic image, an old technique now brought into the modern age with moving videos, graphics and animations.
It takes about 30 seconds to setup the device and mount it on to your head. It is so simple you can expect mass adoption of this new technology. Who would have imagined in the 1990’s that smart phones would one day exist? Who would have thought that these smart phones would become virtual reality units? Nobody would have expected all this to happen in less than 20 years! We live in an exceptional time.
[Above] The Samsung Gear VR without a smartphone inserted could be mistaken as comedy glasses. You can see the magnifying lenses quite well and how simple technology makes up the unit.
Virtual Reality and Social Media
At Lucky 6 Marketing we provide social media in Lancashire and we are starting to see the effects of this new technology. Have you seen 360 photos on Facebook yet? These are a direct result of this technology. How about 360 video? Less common on Facebook at the moment but expect to see more of these too.
[Above] On Facebook the above photo allows the user to pan through the picture using their mouse or smartphone. 180-degree exterior photo of the Lucky 6 Marketing office in Preston, Lancashire.
Mark Zuckerberg who founded Facebook has personally invested in Oculus, the software that powers the Samsung Gear VR headset. This investment is a shrewd move to develop Facebook and social media into a much more immersive experience.
It has already become the place to connect, catchup and communicate but there has always been that divide between the digital and real world. This new type of user interface, that of virtual reality, is being developed to bridge that gap.
Imagine a 3D timeline full of videos and photos that you can explore in a 360-degree environment. Videos shot by your friends or family that are so immersive you feel like you were there with them. This is what the Oculus technology will bring to social media.
The future of virtual reality on social media
2016 has seen the release of many 360-degree camera units. Facebook and YouTube have quickly built the infrastructure to host 360 degree videos and most recently live streams. Can you imagine watching breaking news stories live on Facebook and being able to look wherever you like as the crew broadcast from the centre of the action? How about being at the centre of your favorite sport and following the action as it passes right by you. This is the future of live, 360 degree and totally immersive media on social media.
Mark Zuckerberg has personally endorsed a new chat model that sees the use of virtual reality to bring you closer to friends and family. Facebook Messenger is currently used on a monthly basis by over a billion people. Imagine using Messenger with a virtual reality headset and being in the same room as the person you are talking to.
No doubt you will also see social games pushing ahead on social media platforms that encourage you to log on and stay logged on to your platform of choice. All these developments point towards social media developing more towards a place to meet, chat, socialize and spend time with each other.
To understand the potential of this new technology I encourage you to try one of these headsets for yourself. You simply need a smart phone, a headset and a spare few minutes. You will not be disappointed.
Social media in Preston and throughout the world is about to become a lot more interesting.
Thanks for reading. Have you tried any virtual reality units on your phone yet? If so what did you think of them?