Facebook’s Surround 360 x6 and x24 3D cameras (above) were the most interesting among the few hardware projects described at the F8 event. They were designed with imaging specialist Flir Systems to deliver six degrees of freedom to output images at 3x and 4x pixel overlap, respectively.
The ruggedized systems provide per-pixel depth information. Image stitching and rendering software on Facebook’s servers turn the cameras’ output into 3D 360-degree content. The Web giant aims to license the camera designs to companies who will make, sell and rent them by the end of the year.
Facebook rallied software companies including Adobe, Otoy, Foundry, Mettle, DXO, Here Be Dragons, Framestore, Magnopus and The Mill to support the camera. They will deliver by the end of the year a suite of tools to enable developers and production companies to create more detailed virtual environments.
The camera and related tools are key to spawn high quality, professional content that is sorely needed for VR. As one producer at the event noted, virtual reality is still waiting for its “House of Cards” moment, referring to the Netflix series that put Internet video on the map.
Separately, a new 360 Capture SDK aims to enlist users in creating their own images and video for virtual reality environments using traditional stitching and cube-mapping techniques. The resulting content also targets viewing on PCs and handsets. Separately, Facebook described a handful of resolution-enhancement techniques it developed.
Next page: Welcome to Cartoonland