Facebook is getting into the 360 degree video game with a new product, the Surround 360.
It’s not a surprise that the social media giant would be interested in this technology, after all they bought the virtual reality company Oculus Rift for $2 billion back in 2014. 360 video is important for the future of virtual reality because it provides footage which users can interact with by looking in any direction they want.
The Surround 360 camera is an impressive looking piece of kit, with a massive 17 cameras arrayed in every possible direction. That includes 14 lenses around the rim of the roughly saucer shaped object plus extremely wide angle cameras on the top and bottom.
These extra cameras are important because they properly fill in the top and bottom of the video sphere, areas which are often cut off in other current camera solutions. It also means that the support structure on the bottom of the unit becomes essentially invisible for even more immersive video.
Facebook isn’t releasing the Surround 360 in a normal way; instead the design is open source and will be made available for free. The materials to build the device cost around $30,000, but the company is hoping technically minded sorts will come in and create their own unique versions of the technology.
Expect many more 360 degree cameras to emerge in the coming months from companies like GoPro and Samsung as virtual reality becomes more popular around the world.