360 Degree Cameras Review
One of the beautiful things about human nature is the desire to push everything beyond limits. Mix that with creativity and the ever-evolving technology that exists today, we will most likely get something truly amazing. And this is exactly what a few remarkable groups of minds have done.
Some feel the standard wide-angle cameras are old news now, as are single-lensed ones. There are multiple pledge funded projects that aim to produce 360 degree cameras. Here is a quick review of the 360 degree cameras to watch out for.
The Bublcam is a spherical gadget that is equipped with 4 wide-angle 1.6MP lenses which are positioned strategically in order to acquire enough data for a complete view with no blind spots. Each wide angle lens is capable of capturing 190 degree views.
The images captured by each of the lenses overlap, and are processed to produce the complete 360×360 degree image. The Bublcam is targeting to produce multiplexed images at 4920×4920 resolution.
More noteworthy is the software behind it; the linking of the 4 overlapping images to produce a seamless spherical view image is truly remarkable. They use techniques such as UV mapping, wherein the data of a 3D image is mapped onto a 2D view, and heat mapped blending for final blending of the photos and videos. The image below shows how a Bublcam sphere image mapped to an equirectangular view would look. For full resolution and extended view, see it here.
A sample of the sphere image from the lenses.
The Bublcam was originally aiming to produce 360 degree stills, but the company has taken things a lot further and will be incorporating 360-degree video capability at 1080p 30fps or 720p 60fps. Their software has been developed further to be capable of real-time conversion of the multiplex images into a sphere image, enabling live video streaming (through WiFi connectivity). The camera is also equipped with a tri-axial accelerometer for adaptation to movement during shooting.
Bubl is also coming up with user programs for viewing Bublcam photos and videos, allowing users to view content from any direction. There is a sample video which comes with a preview of how the user software viewer would work.
Going onto the physical side, the camera is a baseball-sized sphere which is designed to be a rugged camera, giving the option to use it as an action cam. The shell and lens mounts are made of plastic, but the lens rings are made of die-cast aluminum and reinforced with rubber rings for stability and ruggedized support.
GIROPTIC 360cam (Kickstarter)
Another on-going project, joining the 360 game, is the Giroptic 360cam. It claims to be the first ultra-HD 360-camera, providing a 360×300 degree FOV. They utilize 3 ultra wide angle 185-degree fish eye lenses with ultra-sharp 6-element glass lens, and fixed f2.8 aperture.
The camera is able to produce 4096×2048 photos, with various shooting options (single photo, time lapse (up to 60 second intervals), and timer (up to 60 seconds)). The image below just shows the outcome of the sphere image processed to a 2D image. To experience the user software navigation as well as the full resolution photo, see it here.
Giroptic also made a video mode option available; the camera is equipped with a gyroscope for video stabilization and is capable of recording 2048×1024 resolution video at 25/30fps. The 360cam is equipped with 3 microphones for 3D audio. Additionally, the 360cam is fitted with a GPS antenna for a Geotagging option.
Giroptic is releasing free downloadable programs that are compatible for 360cam use. They have a mobile app for iOS and Android, a desktop video player/photo viewer for PC and Mac, and an Oculus Rift video player.
Looking into the build of the camera, it is incredibly lightweight at 180g and fits in a 330 cm3 cube. The camera was designed to provide utmost convenience to the users. It comes in an egg-shaped body, made of plastic and die-cast magnesium for the housing, and has a tapped bottom that serves as a universal mount.
By default, the detachable base screwed onto the bottom is the battery base. The camera is capable of rugged use as an action cam, with an optional nifty little lens-goggle accessory available for underwater use.
Other interesting accessories for the camera are an Ethernet connection base, and a light bulb adapter, both of which are screwed onto the bottom, replacing the battery base. Both will provide the needed power to the camera through POE and AC/DC conversion, respectively. The light bulb adapter is actually very cool; it is extra handy for surveillance purposes, and is such a unique idea that greatly compliments the spherical-view purpose of the camera.
The Panono is a spherical camera that is able to capture images at a full 360×360 degrees. The camera ball uses a surprising number of 36 cameras, giving a total resolution that adds up to 108MP. Aside from the typical shutter button and remote controlled triggering, the camera makes use of an accelerometer to trigger taking a photo. The fun of taking a photo by throwing the ball adds a significant amount of appeal and interest to the gadget.
This camera is focused on image stills, capable of HDR, and is not developed for video recording. The stitching of the photos is quite remarkable, leaving slight distortion, giving a rather extensive fish eye effect to them. A mobile app for both iOS and Android phones will be made available for easy viewing of these photos.
On the hardware aspect, the 36 fixed focus cameras are encased in an 11 cm-diameter sphere casing made of polycarbonate material. The durable casing is designed to protect the camera and enable it to withstand free falls from up to 5m heights – an understandable feature, considering the option for photo triggering by throwing the ball.
Sample panoramas can be viewed (in full resolution) and traversed using their viewer from the Panono website. A sample image showing the sphere image mapped onto a full photo is shown below.
It is debatable if these cameras are a little bit over-the-top. Other than viewing odd distorted images of a 360-degree shot forced onto a usual 2D rectangular photo, one would just be viewing various frames of the photo separately just like from a typical camera. Perhaps the key point of this kind of camera is being able to see everything at a single particular moment, even the things you were not aware of at the time.
The idea is actually incredible for security purposes – kind of gives off an eagle eye characteristic to it. Or it could also be pushing a bit into making a slight dent into invasion of privacy. Not everyone within the 360 degree shot will be consenting to have their photos taken, but the camera will anyway. Perhaps open-topped dressing rooms should start getting phased out at this point?
There is still a lot of improvement in the area of topic. Each of these cameras comes up with their own user software and app to view their camera’s images; some universal viewer has to come out if the market for these cameras will really grow. Or maybe TV manufacturing companies will soon come up with dome TVs to watch the spherical videos on, so they won’t go to waste just being viewed by frame.https://gizbeat.com/4974/360-degree-cameras-review/https://gizbeat.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Panono2-450x225.jpghttps://gizbeat.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Panono2-150x150.jpgNoteworthyRecentTech360,cameras,degreeOne of the beautiful things about human nature is the desire to push everything beyond limits. Mix that with creativity and the ever-evolving technology that exists today, we will most likely get something truly amazing. And this is exactly what a few remarkable groups of minds have done. Some feel...Nicky ArriolaNicky Arriola[email protected]EditorNicky is a full-time student and full-time lab worker. Her passion is anything to do with gadgets or tech and has high hopes to get all roads in the world paved with solar LED panels.GizBeat