The first batch of 360-degree videos consists of marketing material from publishing partners. A clip from Saturday Night Live, for example, lets viewers comb around during the opening segment of the show’s 40th anniversary episode while a separate video from GoPro lets watchers enjoy the sights of Ronnie Renner jumping sand dunes in Idaho from all angles.
To interact with a video on the web, simply grab and move around the video using the mouse cursor. On a mobile device, all you need to do is move the device in the direction you want to look.
In order to capture 360-degree spherical videos, you’ll need a special camera rig like the one Facebook showed off during its F8 developer conference in March. A demonstration at the time let attendees tour the company’s Menlo Park headquarters using footage captured with a rig consisting of 24 cameras.
Facebook says you’ll be able to watch 360-clips via News Feed on the web and on Android devices soon. Support for iOS devices is scheduled in the coming months, the company said.
The long-term goal, as Facebook hinted at, will be for regular users to capture and share their own 360-degree video. While the technology to do that does technically exist today, it probably won’t be until it’s implemented into smartphones before it really takes off.