Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (KRX) still managed to have a trick up its sleeve as it launched its already widely leaked Galaxy S7 phones. However, having Facebook Inc head Mark Zuckerberg make a surprise appearance before the crowd at their Unpacked press conference at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona got an even bigger reaction than Samsung anticipated.
Journalists watched a virtual reality (VR) demo using Samsung’s Gear VR headsets, and when they took the headsets off, none other than Mark Zuckerberg was standing on the stage in his trademark gray T-shirt waiting to address the crowd.
Zuckerberg was invited to talk about the partnership between Facebook and Samsung’s VR efforts in the unannounced appearance. The journalists at the event reported a bit of rock star-like mass hysteria over his presence as photographers scrambled to get a good shot.
The Facebook CEO praised Samsung, saying that they were the only firm that could build OLED screens at the required scale for bringing VR to the masses. He also shared his view that VR would become a huge player in the social media game.
“VR is the next platform, where anyone can create and experience anything they want,” he said. “For right now, it’s mostly used for gaming. That’s quickly evolving.”
“That’s why Facebook is investing so much in VR, so we can deliver these new social experiences. VR is going to be the next social platform. And that’s why we’re working with Samsung.”
Zuckerberg also shared some interesting VR stats with the crowd. He said that more than a million hours of videos have been watched using VR so far. In addition, users have already uploaded 20,000 360-degree videos to Facebook since last year.
He also announced that a new technology known as “dynamic streaming” would come to Gear VR. This tech uses high-resolution video on the areas people are watching while using lower resolution for other areas to help boost quality and keep bandwidth usage down.
Facebook Inc (FB) sets up social VR team
Facebook has now formed a team devoted to creating social interactions in VR. It will be led by video game execs Mike Booth and Daniel James.
The firm said in an official blog post: “This team will explore how people can connect and share using today’s VR technology, as well as long-term possibilities as VR evolves into an increasingly important computing platform.”
Minecraft coming to Oculus
Although Zuckerberg was quick to point out that VR was quickly evolving past its emphasis on gaming, he did mention that there were already 200 gaming apps in development for Oculus. He also announced that the popular game Minecraft would be added to the VR platform in the near future.
Facebook paid $2bn for Oculus in 2014, and they have been working together with Samsung to develop Gear VR headsets.