At F8, Facebook’s annual developer conference in San Jose, California, the social media company shared updates on React 360, an interactive WebVR and 360 content publisher. Experiences made using the technology can show up across the web and in people’s Facebook News Feeds, effectively bringing virtual reality to its more than two billion members—no headset required.
To showcase this feature, Facebook worked with National Geographic and is showcasing an updated version of a 2015 National Geographic interactive VR story. In it, readers are invited to take a virtual tour of Son Doong, a recently discovered cave in Vietnam, believed to be the world’s largest.
“In the social media world, this is a big deal,” says Martin Edström, the photographer and National Geographic Explorer who originally captured the 360 photo spheres of Son Doong for National Geographic. “Now people can literally walk through the largest cave in the world without leaving Facebook.”
Son Doong is believed to be the world’s largest cave passage and is estimated to be between two and five million years old. It’s more than three miles long, with numerous chambers large enough to hold an entire city block of New York skyscrapers. Being the world’s largest cave, Son Doong contains many appropriately gargantuan formations, including the 200-foot “Hand of the Dog,” which might be the world’s largest stalagmite, as well as baseball-sized “cave pearls,” a type of speleothem that’s typically much smaller.
Large scale tourism companies have begun to threaten the preservation of this world wonder. To Martin Erdstrom and other researchers around the world, this new Facebook feature is seen as a powerful new conservation tool.
Check out National Geographic’s newly updated story on React 360 here.
Spokespeople and visuals available.
Anna Kukelhaus Dynan, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-912-6724