One of the great things about the Samsung Gear VR, and there are many, is the way it lets you experience all forms of media. Whether it’s through 360 photos, Oculus Videos, or even Netflix, the Samsung Gear is quickly becoming a one stop device for all your media needs; but they’re not stopping there. Recently the Oculus Social Alpha app has been released, and it’s taking everything you love about watching videos in virtual reality, and adding the fun of sharing that experience with other people in real time.
This app can be simply defined by saying that it lets you watch videos in virtual reality with up to four other people; these can be your friends or complete strangers; the internet is wrought with possibilities. To delve more into the specifics of the app, you are placed in a cinema type setting with a screen in front of you and seats to the side of you. When first launching this app you’ll be prompted to pick an avatar, or a cartoonish head which will represent you; the cool thing is that your avatar looks where you look.
After you select an avatar you’ll see a list of ‘rooms’ which are screening different videos. Another cool feature of this app is that you can talk with everyone in the room using the microphone on your phone; it’s as if you’re having a conversation with someone sitting right next to you watching exactly what you’re watching. As of right now only videos from Vimeo or Twitch can be used for this app; which is hardly a limitation as Twitch has 45 million users, and Vimeo is a competitor of YouTube and has countless videos for people to enjoy. Still it should only be a matter of time before we see Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and others being available to be watched as a group with this app.
What’s unique about this app is what it represents, the Oculus Social Alpha is truly a forerunner for things to come in virtual reality. How long will it be until having board meetings in virtual reality becomes the norm? How long until conference calls become virtual meetings? As much potential as this technology has for the corporate world, it doesn’t even compare to the amount of potential in the social media world. If you think Facebook did a lot to reunite you with friends and family who moved away, then you better brace yourself for all the changes that virtual reality is going to bring to social media.