When Facebook acquired Oculus last year, many were left scratching their heads at the combination. Regardless of what Facebook’s intentions were, it made an unspoken promise to leave Oculus alone to do what it does best: develop VR products and experiences. That doesn’t mean, however, that Facebook has no plans to capitalize on that purchase itself. Thus it came as a surprise to no one that Chief Product Officer Chris Cox admitted at the Code/Media conference that Facebook is working on some VR apps. The question, of course, is what for.
There is perhaps very little doubt that Facebook will use virtual reality for more content. The more engaging content, the better for Facebook traffic and profits. Right now, people are just putting up bits and pieces of content on Facebook, photos, video clips, status updates. But what if you could post “the bigger picture”. Like the 360-degree experience of being inside a fighter plane or moving around inside a Mongolian house. They say a picture is worth a thousand words and a video is worth a lot more. Imagine how much a VR version would be worth.
If so, the question becomes “how will users create such content”. For now, Facebook is silent but it not hard to imagine it will require cameras. A lot of them. Samsung, who designed the Gear VR together with Oculus, revealed its Project Beyond camera, a alien-looking contraption that can capture stills and videos from all directions and angles and either record them or stream them live.
That solution, however, might be costly and is, in fact, far from being a commercially viable product. In the absence of such solutions, Facebook could very well be left with no choice but to produce content themselves, at least for the meantime. We can imagine Facebook producing or at least highlighting VR videos or maybe even creating a VR-friendly version of the Facebook site. It might still be a long time, however, before users will have access to a “VR content creation” tool, especially one that Beyonce can and would use.