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July 29th, 2016

Facebook Surround 360 Plans Released to GitHub

Facebook’s open sourced plans for the Facebook Surround 360 camera system isn’t destined to be a boom for DIY enthusiasts, as it’s estimated that the cost to build one will weigh in at about 30 grand.

The Video Screening Room

Open source does not necessarily mean free or cheap. This week Facebook open sourced plans for an immersive 360 video camera system, Facebook Surround 360, whose component parts cost about $30,000. The plans for the camera are free, though. See the video here and the news story on TechCrunch.

As thoughtful community members we need to be considering the following interesting questions:

  1. Maybe $30,000 is not expensive for the possible uses for this camera.
  2. How does open sourcing the plans for this camera benefit Facebook as a company? Are there any
    risks of consumer lock-in?

The upsides and downsides of this announcement are not easy to think about, but we should be trying to think about both the upsides and the downsides. Socrates taught us: “Wisdom comes from wondering.”

One last point – 10 Gbps is coming to Chattanooga’s municipal fiber project sometime in the next year or two, I hear. Can such high bandwidth — coupled with Facebook Surround 360 – and VR systems create the possibility of having a fully immersive experience between two more locations within that city? What import would that have for civic discussions and planning? What import for education? What import for the visual and performing arts? Is 10 Gbps broadband going to be the norm in fiber cities throughout the United States?

For the past 10 years, Phil has been working at a public library in the Washington D.C.-area, helping youth and adults use the 28 public Linux stations the library offers seven days a week. He also writes for MAKE magazine, Opensource.com and TechSoup Libraries. Suggest videos by contacting Phil on Twitter or at pshapiro@his.com.

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