Facebook has recently announced that it is developing a VR based web browser called Carmel. The announcement was made at the recently held Oculus Connect (OC3) conference. Facebook bought Oculus Rift, considered by many to be among the most sophisticated virtual reality platform currently available, in 2014. Mark Zuckerberg had earlier said that practical applications of virtual reality were still some time away in the future. However, this, along with other announcements made by Facebook at OC3 seem to indicate that it is ramping up development of the VR ecosystem.
So how does Carmel help brands? For one, a VR browser will bring a web experience to virtual reality. Currently, developers need to create special apps to provide a VR experience, which then need to be downloaded by the user through the app store. With a browser designed to provide a virtual experience becomes much simpler. For example, an e-commerce portal would be able to provide users with a shopping experience much closer to an actual store with the help of a VR compatible website through this browser.
Facebook has said that Carmel will be compatible with any Oculus device and a developer preview will be available soon.
“Facebook Carmel will revolutionize the VR industry. A VR web browser is definitely a step ahead in giving netizens an immersive experience and will also open up paths for many players in the industry, especially for e-commerce. With VR touted as the next big thing in digital, this browser can be the one stop destination for accessing all VR related content thus reduce the stress of downloading individual heavy files and also a great new avenue for browsing content through VR websites directly,” said Sushant Baliga, Founder of SpectraVR.
Kunal Sharma, Founder and Director of FlipSpaces Technology also agreed that features like virtual chatrooms and product showcases will be of great help to consumers. "Facebook Carmel will play a very important role towards the development of VR tool for interior industry. Product merchandising being the backbone of interior industry,” he said.
A forecast by Digi-Capital pegs combined VR and AR revenues to touch $120 billion by 2020. The report states, “For app and content developers (not selling hardware, goods or services), advertising sales could be the most valuable business model at around $1 of every $10 generated by AR/VR.”
In a recent interview with exchange4media, Gurmit Singh, VP and MD of Yahoo India, noted that for display ads to be effective, they will need to evolve to accommodate changing consumer interests, enhance their overall experience on their devices as well as increase interactivity. “For instance, virtual reality is being seen as the future of display ads and advertisers have started to adopt 360 degree images and videos. The potential of 360-degree images and VR is immense as it lets viewers be active participants and makes the experience more engaging for them,” he told us.