Virtual reality is the future of communicating and socialising says Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg. The billionaire founder of the social network called headset-based technology “the next platform”, following on from traditional social media websites such as Facebook, during a surprise appearance at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
“At Facebook we think about giving people richer tools,” he said. “Going back 10 years most of what we shared was text, and then it was photos. And now we’re entering a world where that’s video. But 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.”
Facebook, which bought virtual reality firm Oculus for two billion US dollars in 2014, has since partnered with Samsung to create the Gear VR headset, which can be bought for less than £100 and works by slotting a Samsung Galaxy smartphone into it to use as a screen.
“VR is the next platform, where anyone can create and experience anything they want,” Mr Zuckerberg added.
“Right now, VR is mostly used for games and entertainment, but that’s quickly evolving, and one day you’re going to be able to put on a headset and that’s going to change the way that you live, work and communicate.
“So imagine being able to sit in front of a campfire and hang out with your friends any time that you want, or watch a movie in a private theatre with your friends any time you want. Imagine holding a group meeting or event anywhere that you want.
“All these things are going to be possible, and that’s why Facebook is investing so much early on in virtual reality, so we can help to deliver these kind of social experiences.”
During the press conference, Samsung unveiled its two new smartphones – the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge – using virtual reality, giving each attendee a Gear VR through which the new phones appeared in front of them for the first time.
Mr Zuckerberg also explained that while his parents logged him taking his first steps as a child by writing it in a baby book, and his siblings have used photos and video, he wants to capture his daughter’s using 360 video, which can then be viewed in virtual reality.
“I want to capture the whole scene, so I hope that we can take a 360 video; that way, even if my parents and family aren’t there to experience it in person, they can feel like they’re right there with us,” he said.
“VR is going to be the most social platform.”
Fellow technology giants HTC and Sony are also planning to release virtual reality products this year – the Vive and PlayStation VR respectively. LG announced its own headset on Sunday.