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MWC16: Facebook To Boost 360 Video Quality On Samsung Gear VR

Facebook will quadruple the resolution of 360-degree streaming Facebook videos to Samsung’s Gear VR virtual-reality headset in the next few weeks, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced at the Mobile World Congress.

To get there, Facebook will use dynamic streaming technology for 360 video, delivering “only the pixels you’re actually looking at in the highest quality, instead of delivering the entire 360 video in high resolution,” he said during yesterday’s Samsung press conference. “It’s a more efficient way of delivering 360 videos,” he said.

To make it work, Facebook creates “dozens of variants for every 360 video that gets uploaded to Facebook, each tailored to a specific viewing angle,” he explained. “And then as you watch the video, we rapidly adjust which variant we display based on where you’re looking.”

The process, he continued, quadruples the resolution of 360 streaming video in VR by reducing the amount of required network bandwidth by four times. As a result, videos “look clearer and play faster,” he said.

Information on the increased pixel count was unavailable.

The $99 Gear VR launched in November 2015, and more than 200 games and apps are available for the platform in the Oculus store, Zuckerberg noted. People have already watched more than a million hours of video in Gear VR, he added. Oculus is owned by Facebook.

What’s next: Also during the event, Zuckerberg said Facebook has created a team to “explore how people can connect and share using today’s VR technology.” In the future, “VR will enable even more types of connection — like the ability for friends who live in different parts of the world to spend time together and feel like they’re really there with each other.”

The team will work closely with Oculus and other Facebook teams “to build the foundation for tomorrow’s social VR experiences on all platforms, Zuckerberg said.