Facebook Takes A Step Toward Virtual Reality With New 360-Degree Videos

"You’ll be able to look around and experience it as if you were there."

09/23/2015 05:33 pm ET

Facebook is getting a dose of virtual reality.

The social media giant announced Wednesday that it's enabling 360-degree videos in its News Feed, starting today with a full rollout taking place over the next few months.

"To create 360 videos," Facebook said in a press release, "a special set of cameras is used to record all 360 degrees of a scene simultaneously." Users will be able to move their devices around to see in any direction or manipulate the video angle with their cursors or their fingers, as demonstrated by a Star Wars clip in the video below. 

360 Video on Facebook

Posted by 360 Videos on Facebook on Tuesday, September 22, 2015

You can test it out for yourself on the Facebook product page dedicated to the new feature.  

That doesn't mean that all videos will come with 360-degree views, since only specific cameras can create the footage. Vice, Discovery and NBC's "Saturday Night Live" are among the publishers currently making such videos, the release said.

But Facebook thinks it's only a matter of time before we're all filming in 360.

"In the future, imagine watching 360 videos of a friend’s vacation to a small village in France or a festival in Brazil — you’ll be able to look around and experience it as if you were there," video engineering director Maher Saba wrote in the release. "Along with updates from your friends and family, you will also be able to discover amazing new content on Facebook from media companies, organizations, and individual creators."

This is Facebook's first project with virtual reality pioneer Oculus, Gizmodo noted, which the company acquired last summer for $2 billion.  

You can already experience some 360-degree videos on YouTube if you have a Google Cardboard headset. In June, YouTube enabled the surround vision for its mobile app when a device is attached to one of Google's cardboard virtual reality headsets, which retail for a few dollars.

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