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Meet the 8K cameras that came from Facebook Surround's open source

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Facebook launched the Surround 360 camera as open source last year and these three variations are exactly why Facebook opted not to make direct revenue from camera sales.

When Facebook first launched the Surround 360 camera project as open source last year, a number of companies took the camera (or its software) and proceeded to advance the 360 landscape even further. Now, one year later, Facebook put three off those cameras on display during the 2017 F8 conference.

So what tech does the social media giant think will influence the landscape of 360? Engineering director Brian Cabral highlighted the Kandao Obsidian, Imagine Vision Z Cam V1 Pro, and Onsemi CKT 360 Endeavor as tech that’s pioneering the 360 market.

The Kandao Obsidian, launched by Kandao Technology last year, recently won the Best in Innovation award from this year’s Consumer Electronics Show for its 8K 3D capture, something the company says sets a new standard for similarly sized cameras. The Obsidian uses six fish-eye lenses to capture ultra-high resolution in 3D. Supporting both the DNG RAW format and LOG recording, the pro-level camera uses built-in software to stitch the footage from all six lenses.

Since the launch of the Obsidian, Kandao Techology has also introduced the Obsidian S, a similar camera but with even faster performance, capable of recording 4K at 120 fps to create slow motion effects, or recording 6K at the 60 fps standard for fast action.

During the conference, Facebook also displayed the Imagine Vision Z Cam V1 Pro as an example of how third-party companies took the open source Surround and further advanced the system. While little is known about the Z Cam V1 Pro currently, the camera appears to be a variation of the Z Cam S1 professional VR camera that was successfully launched on Indiegogo last year.

The Onsemi CKT 360 Endeavor is a camera designed by On Semiconductor and manufactured by Q Tech. As a camera coming from a semiconductor company, it uses ten of On’s one-inch CMOS sensors capable of shooting up to 60 fps. Each sensor uses a 110-degree wide angle lens. Using a fiber optic cable, the camera processes both 3D and 2D video using the Facebook Surround open source on an external computer. Once stitched together, those 10 megapixel sensors can create footage up to 8K in resolution. Despite the camera’s capabilities, the system weighs less than 11 pounds.

By releasing the first Facebook Surround 360 version as open source last year, Facebook’s goal wasn’t to earn revenue from camera sales, but to propel the 360 industry forward and encourage new content for the social media platform at new, cutting-edge standards. While several companies adopted the technology, Facebook itself didn’t leave it sitting stagnant either, announcing the development of 24-lens and six-lens cameras that allows the user to move around within the footage as the latest installment for Facebook Surround.