Facebook is reportedly plotting a brand new virtual reality experience for Facebook mobile users that allows you to move around 360-degree videos. According to the Wall Street Journal a source "familiar with the matter" has said Facebook is working on a stand-alone app where "spherical" videos will let users look around and change the view of a video clip by simply tilting or moving their phone.
For instance, if you were watching footage from a sporting event you could effectively turn your head and see what else is going on around you. Or, if you were watching a news report you could see surrounding environment you otherwise wouldn't with a traditional recording.
The immersive experience is similar to that of the virtual reality content seen on Oculus Rift – the VR company Facebook acquired for $2bn (£1.29bn) in 2014. However, instead of wearing a headset to look around, you could do it using your phone.
The technology works by using multiple cameras to capture 360-degree field-of-view and stitching the footage together. We would imagine the video available will be that uploaded by companies who have the resource to make such clips, rather than video clips from friends shot on their mobiles as you would need many cameras to create the effect, like this pricey Odyssey VR rig recently announced from GoPro.
When Facebook announced the purchase and made the statement that virtual reality is the next computing platform after mobile it was only a matter of time before we heard rumour on how Mark Zuckerberg planned to employ virtual reality. YouTube currently has a 360-degree channel dedicated to video that uses a Google Street View style cursor to allow viewers to look around.
The WSJ article claims it's still in early development stages and when (or if) it becomes available it will roll out for all platforms including iOS and Android. Facebook is yet to comment but if it does roll it out we could see a completely different playing field for how we consume video. We can hear advertisers' brains ticking right now...