Facebook has released a software development kit (SDK) that developers can incorporate into their apps to allow users to capture their experience in a 360 photo or video. The file could then be shared and viewed either on the social network’s News Feed or through a virtual reality headset. The 360 Capture SDK leverages cube mapping to produce a format that’s high-quality and suitable for the VR world, adding to the company’s effort to bring six degrees of freedom (6DoF) to the mainstream.
Developers interested in using this SDK are required to use either the Unity or Unreal game engines. Facebook has also released a sample SDK for developers to test in their game titles or VR apps.
Cube mapping is the method of environment mapping that uses the six faces of a cube. It’s possible that by using this technology, Facebook wants to provide an experience as close to 6DoF as possible. Traditionally, stitching together images was the way to map an environment, but the company claimed cube mapping requires less computing power to capture 360 content, maintains the high-quality viewing experience, and enables a 90-frames-per-second performance on VR machines.
While ideally the 360 Capture SDK will be immediately useful for game developers, the opportunities are also there for brands that want to provide more of a memory than a flat 2D photograph can provide. Some use cases could include auto manufacturers, real estate (want to buy a home thousands of miles away?), travel and hospitality, sporting events, and more.
It’s obvious that people love to share their app experience, especially around gaming — just look at Twitch, where people constantly livestream their gameplay. And Samsung’s mobile devices have a way built into the game launcher for people to record their activity. But these are all flat pieces of content. If a developer wants to have people feel like they’re immersed in the gameplay, especially leveraging 6DoF, then Facebook hopes 360 Capture will be its solution.