TORONTO — Flush with cash from a successful Kickstarter campaign for its Bublcam 360 video camera, Bubl is preparing to bring its unique spin on videograpy in the round to commercial and consumers audiences.
Greg Ponesse, Bubl COO, told TWICE that his company reached its Kickstarter goal of $100,000 in just 12 hours, and went on to amass more than $360,000. A total of 705 first-production cameras are now in development and expected to reach qualifying contributors in the September/October timeframe.
Ponesse said Bubl has finalized the camera hardware and is now finishing up the supporting software platform, which is the heart of the offering.
He explained that the Bublcam 360’s design enables capturing gaplessly stitched spherical video and still images, viewable through software on tablets, PC and smartphone screens.
The camera is controlled through apps on third-party iOS and Android mobile devices.
To help eliminate blind spots, Bubl has elected to equip its camera with four lenses, to provide optimal spherical coverage with minimal optimization issues.
Bublcam 360 records video at 720/30 fps or 1080/15 fps in MP4 format. The four images (one from each lens) are multiplexed and dynamically blended through an outboarded computer software stitching process or converted into what Bubl called “an equirectangular” image.
Photos can be captured as 14-megapixel panoramic multiplexed stills exported as JPEG.
Files can be stored directly to up to a 32GB MicroSD card. Images are recorded at 1Mbps, or can be recorded via a USB 2.0 connection or a live stream using VLC.
Ponesse said Bubl’s ultimate goal is to bring the Bublcam 360 (or a future iteration of it) to mainstream retailers as quickly as possible. He estimated that it realistically will be some time later in 2015, adding that demographic intelligence garnered through the Kickstarter effort showed the initial low-hanging fruit coming from commercial and industrial interests, including digital media agencies, production companies and communication companies, among others.
Bubl will address those early transactions either through direct sales or via e-commerce portals like Amazon and eBay, Ponesse said.
The first model is in production now through Canada- based SNTC, whose factories are located primarily in Mexico and Asia.
“As a start-up, it’s very difficult to start out dealing with a Best Buy when you are still figuring out your supply chain and determining if you are going to have enough product to fill all of those stores,” Ponesse explained. “You need to have that engine already chugging before you start to work in a bricks-and-mortartype of environment.”
Ponesse added that Bubl will also have to educate the consumer audience on the benefits and use cases for a 360-degree video camera. He said that, ultimately, Bubl would like to create a culture around its camera, similar to what GoPro has done in the action video camera category.
He said the use cases for the Bublcam 360 are legion, from baby monitoring, to video conferencing to action sports, all of which would benefit from camera capable of capturing what’s happening all around the lenses.
For playback, Ponesse said tablets tend to be one of the best devices to view the created 360-degree images, but ultimately the most immersive viewing comes when using enhanced reality headgear like that made by Epson, Oculus, Samsung and others.
“The Bublcam pairs very nicely with these technologies to view content,” he said.
Although a number of approaches to 360-degree camera designs have emerged in recent months, Ponesse said Bubl is unique in its ability to capture spherical images without gaps or blind spots in the image stitching.
“When you are dealing with digital media, animation and high technology, is very important not to have blind spots in the image,” Ponesse said.
Bubl also has created a proprietary method for taking the image off the camera, which similarly protects the integrity of the image by defining how and when the image stitching occurs, he explained. Bubl is offering an open API, which will allow for a lot of developers to build on top of it.
Ponesse said that in preparation for Bublcam’s retail launch next year, behind an improved secondgeneration model, interested parties can contact the company at [email protected].