Every winter, I watch my social media news feeds fill up with pictures of my friends who are travelling abroad. I watch with envy as they post about their seaside vacations, their mojito day drinking and the glorious sunsets that can be seen from their beachfront hotels. Outside my window there is another 20 centimetres of snow set to fall. It just doesn’t seem fair right?!
Last week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told the world that virtual reality (VR) is about to change the face of social media forever. With the help of new VR technology, Zuckerberg says we will never have to miss out on these kinds of social opportunities again. In fact, we will have more opportunities available to us than ever before.
“Pretty soon we’re going to live in a world where everyone has the power to share and experience whole scenes as if you’re right there in person,” he said in USA Today. “Imagine being able to sit in front of a campfire and hang out with friends anytime you want or be able to watch a movie in a private theatre with your friends anytime you want. Imagine holding a group meeting or event anywhere in the world you want. All these things are going to be possible.”
In 2014, Facebook paid $2 million to purchase Oculus Rift, a VR technology company, which has partnered with Samsung to produce virtual reality headsets and gear that will be available later this year. The social media giant now has teams working on social apps centered in virtual reality that will allow friends, loved ones and business associates — no matter how far apart — to feel like they’re conversing in the same place together.
Zuckerberg says he sees a future where users can scan through their Facebook feeds while playing a virtual game with the help of VR eye glasses. For now, Facebook’s Oculus technology is being demonstrated with the use of 360 Video. The high-definition videos unveiled on Facebook last year, allow you to experience scenes from every angle and feel like you are fully present in that moment, such as in this clip from Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Oculus VR recently released a new virtual movie-watching app called Oculus Social Alpha for use with its VR headsets and Samsung smartphones. The app will allow users to pick their own avatars and to “sit” with each other in a virtual theatre while taking in videos in real-time. In 2016, Facebook says we will see more publishers and brands creating video content with this new technology, which is hoped to pave the way for more VR-driven content on social media platforms. It is thought that ads featured on VR heads sets will likely grab more attention than standard video ads and will eventually become an advertising method of choice.
Recreate your image with the use of Avatars
Creating an avatar with VR technology will give users an ability to present the best version of themselves in a virtual world. It will provide the option of creating younger, slimmer or more glamourous-looking “twins” of ourselves. It can also map out our facial expressions, as well as mimic the movements of our faces, heads, hands, and our walk and even allow us to make eye contact while having a conversation.
VR technology will additionally give users the option of creating entirely imaginary avatars and will facilitate social interactions in both “real” and fictional places – some even beyond our imaginations. Unlike in video games where you have to participate from the outside looking in, you can become completely immersed in the 360-degree experience of a virtual reality setting.
Is VR the best or worst development in technology?
Many people believe virtual reality will soon become the most addictive form of technology, as it will give users the ability to escape their daily lives and transport themselves to irresistibly amazing places and seductive experiences. Social virtual reality will also have the power to unite us like never before, but if we’re not careful, it could isolate us even more from real life.
Although still in the development stages, Zuckerberg says the marriage between virtual reality and social media won’t reach its full potential for about 10 years but he’s hoping VR will roll out to Facebook as soon as possible.
No matter how far away we are from adapting our daily lives into a new and exciting virtual world, you can bet this new technology will change the way we do just about everything. I, for one, am excited to see the limitless potential that virtual reality will have on our life experiences. I’m also looking forward to that long-awaited mojito on the beach. Or how about from the moon? That’d be one hell of a status update.
Are you excited to try out VR technology?
How do you think VR technology will impact social media use/marketing in the next decade?
How do you think virtual reality will impact our future daily lives?
I would love to hear your thoughts.