Can virtual reality be our new social reality? Social media networks Facebook and YouTube are diving into VR programming with VR apps. Facebook has their new effort, Spaces VR, and YouTube has an app for Google’s Daydream VR platform. In the race for VR social media dominance, who’s ahead and what can we expect from the different VR options.
YouTube Virtual Reality
YouTube already has thousands of immersive videos as well as a VR app for Google’s Daydream VR platform. But what they just introduced at Google’s I/O conference puts social into the VR experience. YouTube is creating a feature that will allow multiple people to watch VR videos together and interact while they are watching them.
While other VR players, like Facebook, are investing in PC based systems, Google is focused on a VR environment that you can get on your smartphone. And not just one specific phone, Daydream was designed to connect to a variety of android phones. With a platform that allows users to begin with equipment they already own and then a small investment, Google and YouTube are aiming for mainstream acceptance.
Even more than the environment of a VR system being housed on a smartphone, Google is creating an open system where other companies will be able to design Daydream-compatible accessories like headsets and controllers. All of these accessories will feature the wireless system and similar controllers that will all include precision orientation sensors. In addition to the YouTube app, Google expects more than 50 Daydream apps this year.
What happens when you want to watch 360 degree videos but you don’t yet have a VR headset? YouTube is addressing that as well by adding 360-degree viewing capabilities on TVs. While the TV isn’t as good of an experience as a VR headset it might be the incentive for a customer to go out and purchase a VR headset. And users will still enjoy watching a live concert in 360 degrees on the biggest screen in their house.
The Daydream View, where you can use YouTube’s VR app, currently works by connecting to a mobile phone. But that might be changing in the future as well, as Google announced potentially the first standalone VR headset that won’t require wires or a mobile phone. This Daydream-ready device would include all the needed competing power and would be able to do positional tracking. But Google isn’t the only one working on a standalone VR headset.
Of course, YouTube isn’t the only social media network looking to make VR a more social experience. Facebook has created their own Spaces VR. And they hope that Spaces will be the place where friends and family hang out online in a virtual world.
While Spaces isn’t available to the public just yet, recently some journalists did get to take it for a test drive. If you’ve ever dreamed of what a cartoon version of yourself might look like, Spaces will let you find out.
Spaces will let you hang out with your Facebook friends in a virtual reality. This virtual reality is one that you already know and, maybe more importantly, knows you. Facebook can use your photos to make your avatar look like you. And even in Beta, Spaces interacts with your real-life Facebook feed. Take a selfie of your VR avatar in Spaces and then post it on your real-life timeline.
The focus of Spaces isn’t playing games, but interacting with your real-life Facebook friends. And that virtual reality selfie isn’t the only potential cross-over option. How about answering a Message call while you’re in Spaces? Want to travel with your friends, do it virtually in Spaces. Host a virtual dinner party where you all sit around chatting in virtual reality. It’s way less clean up and location isn’t a consideration when creating your guest list.
Rather than the smartphone that YouTube VR is using, Facebook Spaces requires owning an Oculus Rift headset and at least one Oculus Touch controller. That will probably keep Spaces from becoming mainstream until prices come down or technology improves, or both. But reviewers seem to think it makes for a pretty cool grown up toy.
The Booming Virtual Reality Market (They Hope)
Not everyone is ready to accept virtual reality as the mainstream present or near future. Some critics ask why you would schedule time to visit your friends and family in virtual reality when you could hang out with them online in a simpler format like Skype.
Of course, Google, YouTube, and Facebook are all hoping that their entries into virtual reality will be the one to capture the biggest piece of what experts predict could be a $30 billion market by 2020. That consumer virtual reality market will include both hardware, the Daydream or Oculus, and software.
Which platform will dominate the consumer virtual reality market? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. No matter the future of virtual reality, Vende Digital will be here to guide you through the changes.
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