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Facebook Unveil 'Surround 360' VR Camera, Then Give It Away!

Facebook's F8 Conference, as we all expected, gave us plenty of news to digest, analyse and speculate on. There was the usual mix of updates, planned features and new products, but the announcement that really caught my eye was the news of their new 'Surround 360' VR Camera.

Facebook 360

I know, moving into camera technology seems like a strange move for the social media giant, but their reasoning is perfectly logical. As they continue to push their own video platform, desperate to dethrone the likes of YouTube, 360° video has been a major focus for them. The problem, however, is that few people have the ability to record such media, especially to a decent standard. That's where the Surround 360 comes into play.

Featuring 17 lenses, capable of shooting in up to 8K, this is certainly no basic rig. The advanced video stitching algorithms cut post-production work down to near zero, and the durable, easily portable design will allow the camera to be used in location shoots around the world with minimal effort. It's got to be said, Facebook have done well.

Facebook 360

In a further push to get the tech into the hands of budding filmmakers, Facebook have made the somewhat unexpected decision to open source the hardware and software specifications, which will be published online this Summer. This will allow consumers to bypass Facebook and build their own system. According to TechCrunch, you can acquire all the parts online for $30,000, so it unfortunately remains firmly out of reach for most amateur projects but it's open source nature should see it become a highly successful and widely used system among professionals.

Facebook are clearly hoping that the tech will lead to a rise in original content on the platform, which should carry with it a rise in viewing figures and engagement, and therefore ad revenue. I do however, see a slight problem with this plan.

Much to Facebook's dismay, YouTube is still king in terms of video streaming. Google's offering is the first port of call for content creators, and the recent controversy concerning stolen video content, lifted from YouTube and re-uploaded by another party to Facebook's servers, has done nothing to win over their confidence. I would expect the Surround 360 camera to perform very well, securing its place as a valuable tool in the video market, but there is absolutely nothing to encourage the content creators to upload their footage to Facebook. They will, in my opinion, continue to look first to YouTube, meaning Facebook will in fact be enhancing their competition at least as much as they are themselves.

Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. Currently working as Editor of Social Songbird, he hopes to one day drop that 'aspiring' prefix. Follow him @Songbird_Sam

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Facebook Unveil 'Surround 360' VR Camera, Then Give It Away! Reviewed by Unknown on Wednesday, April 13, 2016 Rating: 5
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