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Friends living thousands of kilometres apart will be able to meet in a virtual world under plans outlined by Facebook 

The definition of virtual reality comes, naturally, from the definitions for both ‘virtual’ and ‘reality’. The definition of ‘virtual’ is near and reality is what we experience as human beings. So the term ‘virtual reality’ basically means ‘near-reality’. This could, of course, mean anything but it usually refers to a specific type of reality emulation.
We know the world through our senses and perception systems. In school we all learned that we have five senses: taste, touch, smell, sight and hearing. These are however only our most obvious sense organs. The truth is that humans have many more senses than this, such as a sense of balance for example. These other sensory inputs, plus some special processing of sensory information by our brains ensures that we have a rich flow of information from the environment to our minds.
Everything that we know about our reality comes by way of our senses. In other words, our entire experience of reality is simply a combination of sensory information and our brains sense-making mechanisms for that information. It stands to reason then, that if you can present your senses with made-up information, your perception of reality would also change in response to it. You would be presented with a version of reality that isn’t really there, but from your perspective it would be perceived as real. Something we would refer to as avirtual reality.
So, in summary, virtual reality entails presenting our senses with a computer generated virtual environment that we can explore in some fashion.

Facebook has created a “social VR” team to explore virtual-reality technology’s potential beyond games, as it prepares for the consumer launch of its Oculus Rift VR headset.

Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg revealed the plans in a surprise appearance at Samsung’s Mobile World Congress press conference, while talking up the popularity of 360-degree videos on Facebook, and on Samsung’s Gear VR headset – which uses technology from Oculus.
Going back 10 years most of what we shared was text, and then it was photos. And now we’re entering a world where that’s video. But pretty soon we’re going to live in a world where everyone has the power to share and experience whole scenes as if you’re right there in person.
Facebook, which bought virtual reality firm Oculus for $2 billion in 2014, has since partnered with Samsung to create the Gear VR headset, which can be bought for less than £100 and works by slotting a Samsung Galaxy smartphone into it to use as a screen.
“VR is the next platform, where anyone can create and experience anything they want,” Zuckerberg added.
“Right now, VR is mostly used for games and entertainment, but that’s quickly evolving, and one day you’re going to be able to put on a headset and that’s going to change the way that you live, work and communicate.
This team will explore how people can connect and share using today's VR technology, as well as long-term possibilites as VR evolves into an increasingly important computing platform.
Facebook doesn't say how many people are assigned to work on social VR, or what exactly it thinks a social virtual reality experience might include. But the team is led by two game developers: Daniel James, co-founder of Puzzle Pirates and Spiral Knights studio Three Rings Design, and Mike Booth, who led development for Valve's cooperative zombie shooter Left 4 Dead. Interestingly, Booth's LinkedIn page already listed him as a product manager of Facebook "Social VR" before today's announcement, the role dating back to December of 2015. He posted a job description suggesting that Facebook may be drawing heavily from the world of massively multiplayer gaming:

The team members will work closely with US-based virtual reality technology company Oculus and other teams at Facebook to build the foundation for tomorrow's social VR experiences on all platforms.

Right now, Gear VR is one of the only real homes for virtual reality software. But in slightly over a month, Oculus will release its high-quality Rift headset. Whatever Facebook has in store for mobile VR, it's also likely to be developing for the Rift — where full-fledged virtual worlds may make more sense than 360-degree video


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