MWC16: Facebook’s Zuckerberg Envisions VR as Most Social Platform

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MWC 2016 Facebook Samsung VR

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg took to Mobile World Congress to wax eloquent about virtual reality and the new team he’s putting in place to leverage the nascent but burgeoning technology.

“I’ve been waiting for the day to come when we can deliver this experience,” he told attendees, as reported by CIO. “Today, this is now possible. That day is here.”

Zuckerberg was speaking at a Samsung event launching two new smartphones and a new 360-degree still and video camera, the Gear 360. The Gear VR is based on technology from Oculus, a VR company Facebook acquired in 2014 for $2 billion.

“VR is the next platform, where anyone can create and experience anything they want,” he said. “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 just right there in person.”

MWC 2016 Facebook Samsung VR Mark Zuckerberg

Zuckerberg reported that there are more than 20,000 360-degree videos on Facebook with hundreds added daily. “We’ve only just started to explore what’s possible with video and VR. It’s still really early.” The company said people have watched 1 million hours of VR video and to stay ahead of the game, Facebook recently created a social VR team to build out Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp.

The 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,” according to a Facebook post.

Facebook also just announced its new Telecom Infra Project (TIP), an engineering-focused initiative bringing together operators, infrastructure providers, system integrators and other companies to develop new technologies and reimagine traditional approaches to building and deploying telecom network infrastructure.

“TIP members will work together to accelerate development of technologies like 5G that will pave the way for better connectivity and richer services,” explains a Facebook post.

The next generation of mobile broadband, 5G is nearly 50 times faster than 4G, making it possible to download a two-hour film in one second.

Expected to become widely available by 2020, Facebook is readying itself for the rollout of 5G by teaming with mobile providers and operators including Deutsche Telekom of Germany, BT subsidiary EE of the UK, Globe Telecom of the Philippines, SK Telecom of South Korea, Nokia and Intel. The goal is to make the telecom industry “more flexible, innovative, and efficient” in order to expand connectivity, said Jay Parikh, Facebook’s global head of engineering and infrastructure.

“Scaling traditional telecom infrastructure to meet this global data challenge is not moving as fast as people need,” said Parikh, in Venture Beat. “We know there isn’t a sole solution for this, and no single company can tackle the problem alone.”

“VR is going to be the most social platform, says Zuckerberg, in eWeek. “That’s also why we’ve worked with Samsung, to deliver Gear VR. Gear VR is by far the best mobile VR experience. That’s because it combines the best hardware, from Samsung, with the best software—from Facebook, with Oculus.”

“I think about my baby daughter (Maxima) and the way I want to remember when she takes her first steps. When I took my first steps, my parents just took a pen and wrote the date down in a baby book … when my cousin’s son took his first steps, she took a photo with a camera. My sister, when her son took his first steps, she took a video on her phone. But I want to capture the whole scene.”

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