As a species creativity has to be one of our greatest strengths, granted some ideas and inventions can come across a little whacky and strange, but with perseverance they often blossom into excellent gadgets. One such idea is the Spherical Panoramic Camera Ball, created by Jonas Pfeil. The ball is tossed into the air where it proceeds to snap a full 360 degree panoramic image of the surrounding scene. The images produced are an amazing snapshot of the moment, with every direction able to be explored. Unexpected details appear in every corner, even capturing the scene behind you that was till then unseen.
A built in accelerometer is able to calculate the launch speed of the ball, that is in turn used to calculate the maximum height and time to maximum height. This is then used to time the shot for that zero g moment when the camera ball is stationary. At that moment the 36 fixed-focus 2 megapixel mobile phone camera modules fire off simultaneously. The camera’s internal 8bit Risc processor then stitches them together into a panoramic picture of the scene. Depending on the surroundings the Camera Ball will capture detail out to a few hundred meters in each direction.
Experiments with the Camera Ball have been done in some spectacular settings, rock climbing and town squares to name just a few. Throwing a ball is probably one of the oldest and most primordial games there is and it now has the added advantage of taking pictures. Tossing the camera ball in the air is actually a very clever way of gaining a clear view above everyone’s heads but some thought is going to have to be given to safely catching the camera, loose it down a cliff and the fun is over. Still it is wrapped in foam padding and seems quite hardy the ball-shaped enclosure that is padded with foam.
Making photography fun for everyone is just one of those interesting by-products of the Camera Balls operation. The toss is actually just a simple way of allowing for a proper 360 degree view of the surroundings, free of a tripod the camera ball has a fully un-obstructed view. A fact you really notice once the pictures have been downloaded to a PC. The scene can be fully explored in near 3D, rotating around the image reveals detail at every angle and allowing a digital zoom to check out those unexpected details that are often captured.
Jonas and his team are currently looking for investors to take the Camera Ball from prototype to production, rumour has it that December 2011 will see an announcement on this front. Lets hope all goes well, this is one of those products that generates unanimous thumbs up at Highpants HQ, not many products can make that claim, voted unanimously cool by Highpants HQ.
A clever idea well executed the Camera Ball will hopefully make it to market early next year and take photography to brand new places, entertaining and fun places.
Spherical Panoramic Camera Ball in action.
Panoramic photography creates fascinating images. Very wide angle images are closer to the human field of view than conventional pictures. If seen through a panoramic viewer they let us experience a location as if we were there. Panoramic image stitching can create panoramas from pictures taken one after another. Unfortunately, acquiring the images takes a lot of time and moving objects may cause ghosting. It is also difficult to obtain a full spherical panorama, because the downward picture cannot be captured while the camera is mounted on the tripod.
“With the throwable panoramic camera we solves these problems. The camera is thrown into the air and captures an image at the highest point of flight – when it is hardly moving. The camera takes full spherical panoramas, requires no preparation and images are taken instantaneously. It can capture scenes with many moving objects without producing ghosting artifacts and creates unique images” says Jonas
Source: Jonas Pfeil
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