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!

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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!

Hulu Partners with Live Nation to Bring Music Fans Virtual Reality Concerts

By: Kassidy Coleman

Technology has drastically changed our lives over the past few years. And it has even made a lot of activities basically obsolete. But one thing that couldn’t possibly be replaced with technology is the experience of going to a concert, right? Well, soon you might have a different option for enjoying your favorite music. According to Mashable, Hulu is partnering with Live Nation to bring music fans virtual reality concert performances from popular artists. And it might actually be a more immersive backstage experience than if you were at the physical concert. I don’t know about you, but I think having your own personal concert by your favorite artist wherever you want sounds pretty sweet.

There’s no doubt that with the availability of virtual reality to the public the entertainment industry as a whole is about to completely evolve. Think about it for a second— there hasn’t been technology so drastic introduced to society in a long time. Kind of like when the internet was first introduced to the public, it was a total revolution and now we can’t imagine what life would be like without the internet (Really though, how did people function before the internet?!). And no other medium that we have right now has the same potential as virtual reality does, especially when it comes to bringing a concert to you. Sure maybe you could watch a live stream of a concert on your computer, but that doesn’t even come close to this.

And it is not like Hulu is completely new to the world of virtual reality, so this isn’t really a risky move on their part at all. In fact, if anything it is going to distinctly set them apart from their direct competitor, Netflix. In March, Hulu announced the launch of their app for Samsung’s Gear VR. Their app allows users to watch Hulu’s 2D content in a “360-degree” environment as well as watch content they’ve made specifically for virtual reality. Although most of the content Hulu has in their 2D library wasn’t intended for virtual reality, it still allows viewers to watch their favorite movies and shows in a variety of environments from a living room to the beach. I mean really, who doesn’t want to sit back on a relaxing virtual beach and watch Seinfeld? The VR content Hulu has in their library is also pretty impressive. With 25 channels of virtual reality content from networks like Showtime, Viacom, RYOR, and National Geographic, there is always something interesting to watch. And what’s more is the content Hulu has made specifically for VR runs “close to 4k.”

So with them already having experimented a little with virtual reality, it doesn’t shock me at all that they want to take it a step further and partner up with Live Nation. Not only that, but it is also just really exciting. I mean, can you imagine how cool it will be to enjoy your own private concert in the comfort of your own home? No more fighting crowds to get the perfect view or someone obnoxiously trying to Snapchat the whole concert right in front of you, rudely blocking your face with their phone.

While I don’t think that this could ever truly replace the exciting experience of going to a concert, you have to admit this is still pretty great and definitely means there is more to come as far as virtual reality experiences go.

Are you excited to enjoy a virtual reality concert? Comment below or join the conversation on Twitter!

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