Facebook Reveals New 6DOF Surround 360 Camera

The camera brings multiple perspectives to live videos.

Just over one year ago, Facebook unveiled their $30k Surround 360 camera that could capture footage in 3D and render it all out through the company’s software. The flying saucer shaped camera never actually went on sale, but instead was used as a reference design for others to create their own version.

Now Facebook is announcing the second generation of its Surround 360 design—and this time there’s two cameras. During the annual F8 developer’s conference, Facebook announced the x24 and x6 camera models as an upgrade to last year’s design.

The x24 is named after the fact it has a 24 camera array—just like the x6 has six cameras. Both cameras take on the shape of a ball instead of a flying saucer and are designed for professional content creators.

Facebook doesn’t plan on selling these latest additions to the Surround 360 family. Instead the x24 and x6 camera designs will be licensed to a select group of commercial partners. The x24 was made in partnership with FLIR, a company known for its thermal imaging cameras. The x6 prototype was entirely build in-house.

When it comes to upgrades, both cameras are not just cleaned up versions of last year’s prototype. The x24 specifically can capture 8k-quality footage and has six degrees of freedom (6DOF). That’s right, 6DOF tech in Facebook’s camera.

One of challenges with 360 video is that when you’re in headset, if you want to move left or move right with your head, the scene is still locked around you, wherever that camera happened to be placed. This can break immersion. But thanks to the pixel overlap with the camera, you can get a very detailed per pixel depth map of every part of the scene. Allowing you to move your head in a position where the camera never was. Move your head forward and the camera is smart enough to reconstruct what the view looks like from different angles.

One of the best parts of shooting in six degrees of freedom is that you can now add 3D visual effects. Because each pixel has depth, 3D effects can be added to live action footage, as can be seen in the example below.

Both the x24 and x6 are expected to ship later this year and we will keep you updated on more details as we get them.

About the Scout

Jonathan Nafarrete

Jonathan Nafarrete is the co-founder of VRScout.

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