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Facebook unveils Surround 360 camera, makes it open source

by Brandon Russell | April 12, 2016April 12, 2016 4:30 pm PST

We’ve already seen 360-degree video infiltrate YouTube and now it’s Facebook’s turn to give the technology a shot—and it’s doing so by announcing a reference design for a video capture system. The new initiative is part of Facebook’s growing interest in video, which saw the social network announce increased resources toward live video in particular.

Dubbed Facebook Surround 360, the reference reveals a design equipped with a 17-camera array capable of capturing images in 360 degrees and rendering them automatically. The plans for the design are completely free and open-source, meaning anyone can build their own rig (assuming you have the $30,000 necessary to build one). According to Facebook, when combined with its web-based software, the camera offers the best 360-degree experience on the market.

The camera will utilize a global shutter rather than a rolling one, ensuring footage is as smooth and seamless and possible, and Facebook says it’s arranged in a way that will stitch out the pole holding the camera up, something that commonly detracts from the 360-degree experience. If the technology works like Facebook plans, it won’t be long before these cameras begin showing up at major events, allowing anyone anywhere in the world to feel like they’re at the Super Bowl or sitting next to celebrities at the Oscars.

In addition to being viewable through Facebook, footage captured with Surround 360 can be watched using the Gear VR and Oculus. If this sounds like a project you’re willing to undertake, you’ll be able to find the plans on GitHub later this summer.


Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell likes to rollerblade while listening to ACDC.