Facebook reveals ‘Surround 360’ open source VR camera

    Last Updated: 10 May, 2016
    Surround 360

    Facebook at its day two F8 developer conference has unveiled the Surround 360, a 17-lens 3D VR camera that looks like a UFO on a stick. Facebook has developed its own 360-degree stereoscopic 3D video camera from scratch and its idea to open sourcing it is a welcome move, as people can build their own and start shooting.

    Facebook isn’t going to sell this amazing camera tech; instead, the social media giant will put the hardware designs and video stitching algorithms on Github later this summer. Facebook says, all the parts of the camera can be brought for $30000 (approx. INR 20 lakhs).

    “We do not have ambitions of getting into the camera business, but we realize there wasn’t a good reference camera,” Facebook Chief Product Officer Chris Cox told reporters Monday.

    surround 360 17 lenses

    The Surround 360 is packed together with aluminum and its aluminum casing can be quickly assembled and disassembled, it will survive tough conditions like the desert and it can shoot for hours straight without overheating. Its design is simple and portable allowing it handle frequent plane flights, and its rolling base makes it simple to move around.

    The camera records images from all 17 of those lenses and produces a 360-degree spherical video for viewing virtual reality headsets like the Samsung Gear (stereoscopic 3D) and on ordinary smartphones, tablets, and PCs (monoscopic). It can shoot in 4K, 6K, and even 8K, dumping the 30-gigabit per second data to a hard drive over USB. The one fish eye lens on top and two on the bottom mean there’s no hole in the footage above or beneath you, and the pole the camera stands on disappears.

    Similar types of videos are already popping up in News Feeds on the Facebook social network. You can think of these videos as a bridge to the kind of full-fledged virtual reality Facebook plans on offering through the Oculus Rift, the VR headset it released late last month.

    Facebook said that although the Oculus is primarily a way of playing games, but soon the headset will foster a new breed of communication and entertainment atop its social network.

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