Facebook built a disc-shapped camera that shoots 360 degree videos, a move the company hopes will spur the creation of a new wave of virtual reality videos.
Facebook unveiled the Surround 360 Camera at its F8 developer conference in San Francisco on Tuesday.
The camera, which looks like a UFO mounted on a stick, can capture video and images in a wide sphere, which is ideal for creating virtual reality experiences.
Facebook won’t actually be branding or selling the camera directly itself. The company is giving away the design to the Surround 360 camera for free, so that anybody anywhere can buy the necessary parts and build their own.
Facebook is betting big on virtual reality. The company sells the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset for consumers and is planning for a deluge of virtual reality apps and content. But first, it needs to give people the tools to actually make that happen.
By giving camera manufacturers the necessary know-how to make 360-degree cameras, Facebook is hoping that it’ll put more VR-capable rigs into peoples’ hands. Plus, it supports streaming video to Facebook Live, so you can “teleport” to wherever the camera is set up via virtual reality.
It’s remarkably similar to a jointly-developed 360-degree camera design that Google and GoPro announced in 2015. But that partnership has, so far, not amounted to much.
Here’s a look at the internals of the Surround 360 camera: