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Facebook Surround 360, a 360 degree camera.

Meet Surround 360: Facebook’s Open Source 360° Video Camera

Facebook is making a contribution to the open source hardware community in the form of a 360° video camera called the Facebook Surround 360. It is a 17-camera array that captures images and video in 360°. The design, shaped like a flying saucer, has 14 wide-angle cameras on the sides, two cameras at the bottom, and one camera with a fish-eye lens on top.

Facebook Surround 360, a 360 degree camera.
Facebook Surround 360 Camera – Internals.
Image obtained with thanks from Facebook.

It relies on a web interface to control the camera and render images, which is a relatively easy way to support all devices, instead of making native Android, iOS, and Windows apps. However, web-based interfaces tend to be slower than native apps, and they only work with an Internet connection. In addition to that, I don’t see a way to create videos outside of Facebook without uploading them to Facebook and then downloading them back to your own device afterwards. This could result in a significant waste of bandwidth (and money) for those who record many videos.

Open source technologies kick-start and accelerate technological advancement because other people and companies can build on them. The Facebook Surround 360 will be uploaded to GitHub this summer, and it will most likely inspire many to develop their own 360° cameras or at least learn how they work.

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