Opera becomes first browser to support 360-degree videos in VR headsets

Opera users can now watch every online video in virtual reality (VR), thanks to the software company’s latest developer update.

Opera Developer 49 comes with a built-in VR 360 player for VR headsets compatible with OpenVR, including the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. It allows users to view 360-degree videos in VR, and will even work with standard 2D videos.

A relatively new innovation, 360-degree videos let the viewer see the action from all angles and directions.

“The rapid growth of 360 videos and soon WebVR bring an exciting revolution for VR content on the web. However, with limited software support, it has been difficult for VR headset owners to easily enjoy the fast growing library of 360-degree content on Youtube, Facebook and other video portals” explained Andrzej Czarnecki, a Product Manager at Opera, in a recent blog post.

“So far they had to use inconvenient workarounds: download the video first, including spending time on finding a ‘download’ button and waiting for the download. Then quit the browser and launch a separate player app. It wastes time and bandwidth on blindly downloading a video. Sounds ancient.”

“We want to bring the best web experience to our users. That’s why Opera has begun to focus on creating and embedding direct VR playback into the browser. This functionality enables users to watch virtual reality videos, and standard 2D videos, instantly through their VR headsets.”

The new desktop browser version will automatically detect an installed VR headset, and will show a ‘Watch in VR’ button when the user browses to a video.

Looking around in the video will no longer require the use of a keyboard or mouse. Instead, you simply turn your head in the direction you want to look.

Moreover, watching 2D movies or standard 180-degree videos with Opera’s new video playback creates “an awesome, personal movie theatre experience,” Czarnecki said.

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