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Facebook paves the way for VR with buffer-free 360-degree video

Facebook has revealed a new video technology which means users won’t have to wait an inordinate amount of time for its immersive 360-degree videos to load.

The company has explained how it is able to reduce video file sizes by 25 per cent by using a “cube mapping” technique to help get rid of “redundant information” within the video.

The redundant info is caused by warped pixels that appear when a flat image is converted for 360 degree video. The new Facebook Transform tech reverses this effect.

Facebook achieved this by splitting the viewing perspectives into six frames before mapping each section onto a corresponding cube face. Thus the new video contains all of the required information minus the warping.

As each face of the cube is treated equally, the original resolution and video quality remain.

See also: Facebook 360-degree videos: All you need to know

Facebook says this works perfectly well within 360-videos on the News Feed, but in VR, where things are shown at higher resolution and double the frame rate, things get a little more tricky.

In order to ensure users aren’t waiting for buffering, while a headset is strapped to their faces, Facebook uses a pyramid rather than a cube to map the image. This technique reduces the file size by up to 80 per cent.

The latter technique is hugely important to Facebook given the consumer release of the Oculus Rift is just around the corner.

Facebook is also making the technology, dubbed, Transform, available to the open source community via Github.

Check out Facebook’s explanation in the video below

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