Welcome to RenderThat’s weekly roundup of the tech stories you need to know. This week, Facebook announced emojis to make VR videos more social, while Samsung rebranded its VR content portal and puts out a new virtual reality camera. More retailers across a variety of industries are using AR to make buying purchases easier for their customers. Getty Images embraced VR photos, while Snapchat leads the way in social augmented reality for its users. Want to know more about what happened in this week’s tech news? Read on to find out.
If you’ve ever wondered what viewers are thinking when watching VR videos, you’ll get to find out now that Facebook has made it possible to leave emoji reactions to 360 Videos on Gear VR’s video app. Virtual reality can be a lonely experience, so this is one attempt at making VR more social. According to Oculus, emojis will also be coming soon to 360 Photos too.
“This rollout is another sign of Facebook slowly bringing to VR features that are mainstays in the Facebook ecosystem. “
Samsung is serious about competing in the VR market, and the company wants users to help them do it. The tech company launched their newly rebranded VR content portal—formerly Milk VR, now Samsung VR– along with the Samsung Creators initiative to help encourage more VR content makers who can push more user-generated content to the portal. And since users need a camera to create this content, the company has also made the Samsung Gear 360 available for sale in the U.S.
“We want to bring the power of VR technology directly to the people,” said Samsung Electronics America’s chief marketing officer Marc Mathieu. “To help creators learn and perfect the art of VR storytelling, we’ve built an entire VR ecosystem that pushes beyond the frame and empowers them to develop unforgettable, immersive stories, and inspires us all to do the same.”
Whether it’s shopping for home supplies or browsing the aisles of a pharmacy, big retailers have begun searching for ways to implement augmented reality. While home supply store Lowe’s has created the Holoroom to help customers design their new kitchens or bathrooms, Walgreens pharmacy added 3-D technology to in-store maps to help customers find the products they need. Even ice cream maker Dippin’ Dots added an AR feature to it’s loyalty app that lets customers “make it rain” Dippin’ Dots in the store.
“While augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR) feel a little futuristic for commerce, big-name retailers are testing the technologies in ways that appear surprisingly simple and adaptable. If these efforts continue, consumers will increasingly come to expect them to aid their purchasing.”
The stock photo site preferred by publishers and advertisers is about to make newspapers like The New York Times a lot more VR-friendly. Getty Images will now have all events shot in 360, and currently already boasts 12,000 360-degree photo selections. These images are available for licensing and usage along with the company’s other thousands of images that are used by media companies as well as artists.
“Explained Getty Images CMO Susan Smith Ellis. “All of our photographers have 360 cameras. So they are shooting everything … the 180,000 events that we cover in news, sports and entertainment—all of that is shot in 360 as well.”
Facebook may be leading the pack when it comes to investments into VR, but Snapchat’s ability to layer your face with a dog’s nose, ears, and tongue goes beyond just being fun and games. For brands, Snapchat’s filters that allow users to pour Gatorade over their head, for example, not only reach a large number of Millenial users, but also introduce the masses to AR technology. By using facial recognition to let users create an interactive image, Snapchat has become a social augment reality platform, rather than just another social network.
“Augmented reality is an exciting new realm in the tech realm, and Snapchat is crushing the competition.”