Facebook Inc. Has a Team Exploring Social Virtual Reality Experiences

By Daniel SparksFool.com

In a Sunday blog post, Facebook updated investors with some of the progress it's made in virtual reality, along with a glimpse of its very ambitious vision for the technology in the future. Here's what the company had to say.

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Facebook VR demonstration at Samsung Unpacked event. Image source: Facebook.

Virtual reality is already catching on with consumersAbout three months after Gear VR, a virtual reality product combining the Oculus Gear VR headset with Samsung's mobile hardware, was launched, the platform is already gaining considerable momentum, according to Facebook's update this weekend on the platform. Over 200 games are now available in the Oculus app store for Gear VR and users have already watched over 1 million hours of video the device.

The company also noted its breakthrough announced in January on next-generation video encoding techniques for 360 video and VR is already coming to Gear VR.

The technology effectively quadruples the resolution quality of 360 streaming video by significantly reducing the amount of required network bandwidth by creating "dozens of variants for every 360 video that gets uploaded to Facebook, each tailored to a specific viewing angle."

Facebook also said millions of 360 videos are watched every day and over 20,000 have been uploaded, with hundreds more being added every day. Yet CEO Mark Zuckerberg is convinced this is only the beginning, noting, "We've only just begun to explore the possibilities with this format."The future is virtual When Facebook acquired Oculus VR in 2014, Zuckerberg had big hopes for technology.

"One day, we believe this kind of immersive, augmented reality will become a part of daily life for billions of people," Zuckerberg said in a press release announcing the acquisition. Longer-term, he noted it had potential to become the "next social and communications platform" -- quite an endorsement coming from the founder and CEO of the world's largest social network.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at Samsung Unpacked event. Image source: Facebook.

And it seems Zuckerberg's ambitions for VR haven't moderated at all. The company announced this weekend it has created a team at Facebook "focused entirely on exploring the future of social interaction in VR."

Zuckerberg explained that the company is helping companies connect on mobile devices today through apps like Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger, but now it will attempt to apply this same approach to a new medium: VR.

Zuckerberg is clearly as serious about the technology as a medium for a future social platform as ever. But as Zuckerberg admits, the company is going to need to overcome some software and hardware hurdles before the platform becomes a mass-market product. But in light of Zuckerberg's huge ambitions for the platform, expect the company's execution to move as fast as the technology.

The article Facebook Inc. Has a Team Exploring Social Virtual Reality Experiences originally appeared on Fool.com.

Daniel Sparks has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Facebook. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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