How Facebook is Planning on Making VR Less Lonely

By: Kassidy Coleman

If you’ve ever worn a virtual reality headset then you know that although it’s fun, it can be a little lonely. Sure, it’s a ton of fun taking a virtual trip to Mars or traveling back in time to hang out with dinosaurs, but most of us can agree that it would be more enjoyable if we could engage in a community with other people in the virtual world.

Last month, Facebook had stated that they had a dedicated social VR team that was going to be working on finding ways to integrate VR into their social platform. Now Facebook is looking to make virtual reality a little less lonely by allowing you to share your reactions of videos viewed on Gear VR.

Facebook will start rolling out support for five emoji reactions for users to show how they feel about the virtual reality videos they’re watching. This will add a more social aspect to virtual reality. Being able to see the reactions of your friends will make it feel less like a solo trip into space.

At first, we were a little worried that the reactions would take away from the experience or just be distracting. But Facebook did a pretty good job of smoothly integrating the features without making it overbearing. The reactions of others will simply float by on your screen. Nobody will be typing anything, which could have really killed the mood if Facebook had decided to go that route.

Facebook has always let it be known that virtual reality is a huge part of their future plans which means we can definitely expect to see them integrating their social media platform even more into Oculus in the future.

However, Facebook is not the only company working to incorporate social interactions into virtual reality. The Gear VR app now allows users to create profiles, create rooms to watch video streams with friends, and there’s even multiplayer games to play.

Lately virtual reality has been everywhere in the news, but because it’s still so new, nobody knows just how successful the industry is going to be. The consulting firm, Analysis Group has estimated that worldwide revenue from virtual reality could total anywhere from $2.8 billion and $126 billion.

While there’s still a long way to go before VR can really be considered a critical part of social media, it will be an interesting journey to watch!

What do you think about Facebook incorporating reactions on Gear VR? Let us know in the comments below or join the conversation on Twitter!


Virtual Reality x Roller Coasters: A New Kind of Roller Coaster Experience

By: Kassidy Coleman

(Photo source: Six Flags)

(Photo source: Six Flags)

Remember earlier this year when we got the news that the amusement park Six Flags and Samsung were teaming up to give us the ultimate roller coaster experience? Six Flags wanted to revamp their roller coasters by adding in a virtual reality component while Samsung wanted to push their virtual reality headset out onto the market. In March, the Six Flags in Texas opened the first virtual reality coaster in North America. This immersive ride took riders on a trip where they feel like they’re flying a jet fighter and fighting for their planet against aliens. Now Six Flags plans on opening up several virtual reality coasters around the country by the end of this year. This week the Six Flags in Maryland opened up their revamped roller coaster, Superman: Ride of Steel for people to try.

Of course rides have incorporated screens before, but it hasn’t really been done on a roller coaster. Most rides that incorporated video did so on a large screen and with seats that moved around, nothing as intense as a roller coaster. Although some may think that incorporating virtual reality into roller coasters sounds like it would be nauseating, most of the reviews from riders have been very positive.

On June 11, the Six Flags park in Upper Marlboro, Maryland opened up their ride for people to try out the roller coaster virtual reality experience we’ve all been eager to try out. Before the revamped Superman: Ride of Steel Virtual Reality Coaster starts, riders put on their virtual reality headsets equipped with a Samsung Galaxy S6. And if you’re not into it, don’t worry, you have the option not to wear it. After you put on the VR headsets, the city of Metropolis appears right in front of you. If you look down at your shirt, you’ll notice that it has now been virtually changed into a T-shirt with the Batman logo or you can change it to a Wonder Woman logo with a click of a button. It’s a little weird that they’d change your shirt, but it does put you into another world by doing that.

Usually when you’re riding a roller coaster, you can kind of see when the next drop comes. Now this is where Ride of Steel keeps riders on their toes. While the roller coaster goes its course, you’re flying over buildings in Metropolis and being shot at by Lex Luthor, only to be saved by Superman himself. You’re only a few centimeters from hitting the virtual ground before Superman is able to save you. Seriously, this ride gets intense! Although this ride was already Superman themed before the VR makeover, now the adventure isn’t left up to your imagination.

Riders who have been riding the original Superman: Ride of Steel and confidently knew every move the coaster made felt like it was a brand new roller coaster. Al Clowe, a member of American Coaster Enthusiasts (ACE) stated “when you integrate it with virtual reality, its completely different.” The inclines on the roller coaster combined with the images in the VR headset immensely increase the intensity of the ride. We’re expecting more virtual reality roller coasters to start popping up in amusement parks around the globe.
What do you think of VR coasters? Let us know in the comments below or join the conversation on Twitter!

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