Facebook has been showing off all sorts of nifty new features at its F8 conference today, including one which explains why the social network spent $2 billion buying Oculus Rift last July.
In addition to improving its embedded video platform, Facebook also promised us that a new option for 3D spherical video would soon be coming to our news feeds.
The videos won't be as immersive as the 3D experience of Oculus Rift's 3D headsets, but Facebook says that we'll be able to manipulate them with the click of a mouse:
It's not clear whether we'll be able to upload our own videos (or how we would make them), but Facebook has said that it is releasing tools so developers can start producing the videos for publishers.
As you may know, Youtube debuted 3D videos only a couple weeks ago. The 3D effect currently only work in Chrome and the Youtube Android app, and the video quality is still lacking.
But it's clear that Facebook has serious competition:
I think this will prove useful, but before that happens the tech is going to have to get a lot cheaper and better. While there are some relatively inexpensive 360 degree cameras on the market, they don't sport very high resolution sensors. A 5MP sensor is fine for a regular photograph, but it's simply not enough for a 360 degree video.
And then there's the problem of bandwidth, and browser support.
I think it's safe to say that 360 degree video is still a lab project more than a real option for consumers, but I wouldn't bet that will still be true next year.