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New ‘Jumanji’ VR Experience Also Works on Facebook, Thanks to Cool Tech

Get ready for interactive virtual reality to invade your Facebook news feed: Sony Pictures and Oculus have jointly developed a new virtual reality (VR) experience for the upcoming “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” movie that runs in VR headsets, on mobile phones, desktop PCs and even on Facebook.

The experience, which was also co-developed by Avatar Labs and the Facebook Creative Shop, lets users embark on a kind of 360-degree treasure hunt. It tasks them with finding treasure maps, margarita glasses and other items to unlock clips from the movie and more. On the surface, it’s your typical promotional VR experience, meant to give users a behind-the-scenes look at the upcoming film.

However, there is something that’s unique about the experience: It has been programmed entirely in React VR, a technology that makes it possible to write VR experiences in JavaScript. Using these kinds of web technologies for VR development is an approach also known as WebVR, and it’s long been championed by developers who were looking to simplify the programming of VR experiences.

In addition to simplicity, WebVR is also promising more interoperability between a variety of platforms and devices. Basically, any device that runs a WebVR-capable browser can be used to access WebVR experiences, which is why the “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” runs not only on the Oculus Rift and Gear VR, but also on Phones and desktop PCs.

On Friday, Facebook went even further and started to test the playback of VR experiences built in React VR directly in the Facebook news feed. These tests are initially limited to a handful of select publishers. However, eventually, the company hopes to make more and more WebVR experiences available in the news feed. Facebook users have already been able to watch 360-degree videos in the news feed, and these new experiences should add more interactivity to that.

“Building an immersive experience for this movie was a goal from the start. It was important for us to give fans the opportunity to journey into the rich world of ‘Jumanji,'” said says Sony Pictures digital marketing EVP Elias Plishner. “We were blown away with the technology and the fact that it could be easily accessed on a platform people use every day.”

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