Beyond attempting to connect human brains to computers, Facebook is pushing the virtual reality video envelope which is great news for virtual reality porn consumers, directors, and producers alike. Facebook’s new 6DOF system will produce 360 videos that are much more immersive than standard 360° video. That said, this new video standard is ways off and the hardware will be quite expensive.
Facebook’s new approach to virtual reality video began with its Surround 360 hardware initiative that was started last year. Surround360 was begun with the goal of making virtual reality video more immersive. Because virtual reality headsets put viewers so close to video streams, realistic and immersive video is very difficult for producers and developers to achieve. Facebook’s new approach uses hardware and software methods to produce videos that immerse viewers with 6 degrees of freedom (hence the 6DOF).
To understand why Facebook’s approach will be better than traditional 360 videos, it is necessary to understand what 6DOF actually does for video. 6DOF is not only important to videos, but also plane flights, engineering tasks, and most importantly virtual reality gaming controllers. The basic definition of 6DOF according to the always accurate and truthful Wikipedia is:
Six degrees of freedom (6DoF) refers to the freedom of movement of a rigid body in three-dimensional space. Specifically, the body is free to change position as forward/backward (surge), up/down (heave), left/right (sway) translation in three perpendicular axes, combined with changes in orientation through rotation about three perpendicular axes, often termed pitch, yaw, and roll.
After reading through this definition, it is easy to see how this would be useful for virtual reality controllers or the tracking units in virtual reality headsets themselves. First-person shooter games generally have 5 degrees of freedom, which include moving forwards and backwards, strafing to the left and to the right, moving up and down (which accompany jumping and crouching player movements), yaw (which is turning movement), and finally, pitch which is looking up and down. Games like Rainbow 6 contain 6 degrees of movement instead of 5 because they allow players to lean which is equivalent to the “roll” degree of movement.
Returning to Facebook’s 6DOF
To understand Facebook’s complicated approach to 6DOF video, I believe it is easier to think of this new video standard as creating a video environment that can be navigated in 6 degrees rather than a video that contains 6 degrees of freedom. In these terms, Facebook’s hardware and software capture a fully 3d environment whereas traditional 360 videos do not.
Traditional 360° videos like those captured with a Gear 360 only capture pitch, yaw, and roll. This is 3 degrees. Regular 360° videos do not account for forward/backward, left/right, and up/down movement. If considered as video environments, traditional 360 videos are 1D, or unidimensional environments where users are placed inside of a video sphere.
The 3d environments that Facebook’s system captures will make their videos super-immersive, however, it is also the reason why so much research and development must be focused on this standard. To capture 3d environments, Facebook’s system captures point clouds using sophisticated software that calculates the depth of environments.
All in all, Facebook’s new system seems promising. Facebook says 6 DOF cameras are on their way to the market sooner rather than later. Additionally, such systems will not be cheap. Although this may mean that consumers cannot initially afford to buy these cameras, they will probably be affordable enough for VR porn producers. When virtual reality porn adopts this standard, we will get hyper-real virtual reality sexual experiences that look 1 million times better than what we have now!