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Why virtual reality is the next social network

Why Virtual Reality is the Next Social Network

Two of the world's biggest social networks are investing billions on augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR): Popular message app Snapchat recently truncated its name to Snap and announced the launch of Spectacles, $130 glasses that let you record Snaps from your viewer perspective; and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg recently hosted a keynote demonstrating how a social experience in VR might work, wearing a prototype wireless Oculus Rift and hanging out with a bunch of his avatar friends at Facebook headquarters. These may sound like some fun things to toy around with in your leisure time, but there are some serious business lessons to be learned from these innovations. Here are updates on both—and how your business can use social AR and VR to your advantage.

Snap Spectacles: The basics

Snapchat's rebrand to Snap suggests that they want to expand beyond their current status as a fun social app. Their Spectacles let users capture short videos from their own perspective and post them to the app. What's notable is that it records circular video with a 115-degree field of view—which means that someday the preferred method of playing back Snaps might be on the glasses, not on the app, opening the door for future AR and VR innovations. And that's not all Snap has going on. The company has also quietly acquired Seene, a computer vision startup that lets mobile users make 3D selfies. What Snap does with this tech remains to be seen, but it has the potential for new kinds of Snap filters, 3D photos, and more.

Facebook and Oculus: The latest

Two years after acquiring Oculus, Facebook has made it clear that VR will be their next big communications platform. During a demo held at Oculus Connect 2016, Zuckerberg showed off the social VR experiences that Facebook is tinkering with: Chatting with avatars of your friends, traveling to unreachable places like underwater or Mars, and taking VR selfies that you can instantly share on Facebook. But there were also new, real tools Oculus created for the Rift platform that will be available soon. You can create an avatar for yourself and join friends in a “Room,” to play a game or use an app together.

Why are these innovations important?

With the current technology, VR and AR offer interesting—but solitary—experiences. And while gamers and other tech savvy users are familiar with AR/VR, mainstream users aren't. Spectacles' trendy design, relatively low price point, and association with a large, young social network could convince millions that wearing AR headgear is cool. And if any company will be able to leverage the mainstream adoption of VR, it's Facebook and their loyal audience. Injecting a social element within these experiences (and ones like them) will speed up their mainstream adoption.

What are the implications for business?

There are many. The tech behind creating a 3D selfie can easily translate to a product demo for consumers at home, at tradeshows, or in-store. And while the VR “meeting” that Zuckerberg demoed was basically a fun virtual swordfight, there are real implications for remote meetings here as well: Brainstorming on a whiteboard, pointing to items on an instant screen, and even interviewing job candidates.
Another bonus: If you employ technology that consumers or employees already have on hand, it could save money on your hardware budget.
Advances in AR and VR spur new, socially-integrated brand initiatives. Major retailers are already using AR and VR for marketing pushes, like using VR to take people on virtual hikes to promote a new boot, or to help customers visualize complex remodeling projects. Architects use AR and VR to collaborate on and design structures, while the automotive industry uses the technology to save costs in building prototypes and creating driving simulators.

VR + HP: Tech you can experience

You may have heard about the HP Omen VR gaming backpack—keep an eye out for an HP Workstation version, too. VR content creators can rely on comfortable, accurate, and compelling experiences when working on HP Workstation NVIDIA® VR Ready configurations. [1] And the HP Zvr Virtual Reality Display delivers a virtual-holographic 3D image that lets you experience real-time, natural interaction with your 3D content—its full-motion parallax sensors track and respond to the movement of the lightweight, passive glasses you wear with it. [2]
[1] Multi-core is designed to improve performance of certain software products. Not all customers or software applications will necessarily benefit from use of this technology. Performance and clock frequency will vary depending on application workload and your hardware and software configurations. Intel’s numbering is not a measurement of higher performance.
[2] 3D content is required for 3D performance. User must be wearing 3D glasses for tracking to occur. 3D glasses, 3D glass clip-on, and stylus pen are included.

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