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Virtual reality is booming. Joining big tech brands, such as Samsung, Facebook and Google (backing Magic Leap), in the digital revolution is Flickr, a leading online content provider.

Instead of creating complex hardware, the company plans to push out 360-degree panoramic shots for VR goggles. The online platform is still far from polished, but an early preview showed its potential to dominate the nascent scene.

Here’s what we know so far about Flickr’s latest offering.


Pushing the VR Content Envelope

The digital content provider released a preview of the experience during the XOXO Festival in Portland, Oregon. Using an Oculus DK 2 and a PC, attendees were able to immerse themselves in rich, 360-degree photos.

“I tried it on and indeed I was able to look all around me in 360 degrees to view an entire scene. To flip through the slides, I looked down at a pair of pink and blue balls for a couple of seconds, which triggers the next photo to load,” wrote Nicole Lee from Engadget.

Bertrand Fan, a Flickr front-end architect who is overseeing the newly announced project, clarified that the group has only been working on the platform for a couple of weeks. Expansion plans for compatibility includes Gear VR and other headsets after the official release.

In order to be a go-to market place for VR content, the photo hosting service needs to generate millions of panoramic shots. To streamline the process, the group will create a new category for such images on the site. A dedicated category is also an effective way to funnel all of the panoramic content floating around the website (they’re a pain to sift through at the moment). Hopefully, as users browse through the photos, they will be encouraged to contribute their own additions to the online library.

Promoting VR viewing in the galleries is a small headset icon. This will let individuals know that the image can be viewed with goggles. Clicking on the photo will activate the features and users can immediately start diving into the experience.


What’s Next?

Flickr seems to be heading in a very promising direction. Based on the preview, the group is focused on connecting its well-established photo hosting services with the core foundations of VR technology- visuals, experience and content.

“The feature already includes eye control as a means of advancing through a slideshow of 360-degree VR photos, however, Fan doesn’t want to stop there,” said Kelly Hodgkins from Digital Trends. “He also envisions an advanced gesture-based user interface which would allow you to browse your library and organize your photos using only hand gestures and other virtual reality interactions.”

If all goes according to schedule, Flickr hopes to release the platform by 2016. The Yahoo photo-sharing site is slowly positioning itself to benefit from the adoption of headsets. As long as the group keeps pushing for compatibility, individuals will likely flock to the unique service for their VR fix.

Other businesses that have recently announced similar content service models include YouTube, Facebook and Jaunt.

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