Facebook doesn’t seem to be daunted even after all the controversies. Carrying on business as usual, Mark Zuckerberg’s company has delivered on its promise of making virtual reality bigger and better. Unlike the infamous VPN app, Facebook has recently launched, the new innovation actually looks like a good idea. Oculus VR, part of Facebook Inc has come up with Oculus TV, the first VR streaming hub.
Oculus is a company specializing in virtual reality and has had a successful run with other products in the recent past. It is through Oculus that Facebook realizes its virtual reality ambitions. Back in May this year, when Oculus Go was launched, Facebook promised to make VR more social, with a few new apps to allow people to goggle in and view together. It gave us Oculus Venues, which is a live event viewing platform mixing large crowds of virtual avatars and streaming video. The second offering is Oculus TV available on Oculus Go. It comes with a host of new video streaming apps and promises to be the one-stop destination to find all the streaming videos to watch on your VR headset. However, there’s a big feature missing from Oculus TV as of now – social viewing.
Watching videos together with your friends is a feature that won’t arrive to Oculus TV until later this year. Until then, you can also have a solo viewing experience.
What is VR?
Virtual reality is a simulated experience meant to immerse the viewer in what they are watching. Virtual reality content is viewed through a headset, unlike being watched on a screen. Whether it’s a game or a movie, VR makes you part of the simulated environment.
You don’t remain a viewer watching on a screen. You get to feel like a part of the content and also interact with the 3D world.
VR is different from Augmented Reality, where the latter implies to digital elements being added to a live view. VR offers a completely immersive experience by shutting out the physical world.
Several games and shows and even movies are now being made specifically for VR platforms. These 3D games and videos make viewers part of the whole experience and shut out the real world around.
VR has often been predicted to be the future of all video content. From movies to games and TV shows, a large volume of content is set to be produced for VR platforms and headsets. All you have to do is connect to a VR platform, wear your goggles, and enjoy an immersive experience. Think swimming with dolphins and fighting zombies, sitting on your living room couch.
What is Oculus?
Oculus VR is a company specializing in virtual reality software and platforms, founded in 2012 by Palmer Luckey, Michael Antonov, Brendan Iribe, and Nate Mitchell. Oculus was bought by Facebook in 2014. The company also partners with Samsung to develop the Samsung Gear for the Samsung Galaxy smartphones.
Oculus TV, however, isn’t available for Samsung Gear as of now. The first Oculus product, Oculus Rift, was a crowd-funded project and immensely successful.
What does Oculus TV offer?
Oculus TV has its own catalog of 3D content that you can view through your VR goggles, but it basically is a platform that converts your regular 2D content into VR.
It provides a more immersive experience while viewing traditional videos or games. Oculus Go is what the VR headset is called, and if you already own one, you might be interested in Oculus TV. After all, it is the Go’s own VR streaming TV hub.
Oculus Video is the large catalog of 3D VR-ready content that you can watch on Oculus Go. When opened, Oculus TV looks like a giant movie theater.
Much like other VR apps, Oculus TV opens to a large screen in front of a sofa. The built-in browser tries to find content to view, and it only manages to find a few, including Facebook videos. Each streaming app can be separately launched from the Oculus TV app. The home screen of Oculus TV also shows recommendations.
Quality is Supreme
The most remarkable feature of the Oculus TV is the quality of content. It is, in fact, better than any other VR headset. Oculus Go also streams video better than other VR headsets, although the video quality and resolution have room for improvement. Over time, other partners will be joining the platform, like ESPN. Netflix and Hulu shows can already be watched in VR. Oculus TV will also feature SHOWTIME shows, sports programming including MLB Live games via Facebook Watch, the best in pulse-pounding esports, and more-all on a massive virtual screen, equivalent to a 180-inch TV in real life.
The biggest downside of VR streaming is that it’s a very isolated experience. You don’t get to watch it with others, unlike regular TV.
Therefore, the social feature of the Oculus TV is something everyone is waiting for. Streaming 2D content on VR is not much fun. The feature will most likely to those who regularly play 3D games or watch 3D content (though 3D is annoying to many people). Overall, the Oculus TV looks like another winner from the Facebook stable despite Facebook just getting smashed this year overall with bad news.