NEW YORK – A new spin on the 360-degree action video camera market will make its public debut on Kickstarter May 20, promising the ability to take near-spherical-image videos and stills with a diverse range of application configurations.
The camera, called the “360° Camera,” developed by Lille, France-based Giroptic, is a palm-sized pear-shaped unit with three 185-degree fisheye lenses that capture the surrounding field of view in up to 8-megapixel stills or up to FullHD 1080p video with accompanying 360-degree surround sound.
Images collected by each lens are seamlessly stitched together in real time using a proprietary on-chip, in-camera technology, and can be output to PCs, mobile devices and Cloud storage services, where they can be imported by a wide range of standard 360-degree image players and standard still image and video editing software programs.
The camera also features built-in Wi-Fi and will link with mobile and tablet devices using iOS or Android apps that can share the 360-degree images with family and friends on connected PCs and mobile devices and to offer a live-view screen to monitor action with remote control of the camera’s shooting operations.
To see the full surround effect in playback, viewers need only move the tablet or smartphone screen around them and follow the line-of-sight view on the playback device screen as it moves around the viewer’s position.
An LED screen on the side of the camera offers a digital readout to indicate the device’s operating mode and to indicate error messages and power status. The camera’s internal battery captures about one hour of video per charge.
The camera captures almost a complete surrounding sphere, including a seamless full dome view above the camera. Only a small green patch representing a portion of the picture lost to the camera beneath its lenses (typically where the photographer is standing) can be seen to break up the immersive illusion.
For stills, the camera’s three lenses capture 8-megapixel images each. Still images and video files are stored to a MicroSD card. Video is stored in MP4/H.264 format.
A rubber jacket that wraps around the camera is used to keep the connection point for the lower base water tight.
What really differentiates the 360° from other 360-degree video cameras is its detachable base, which allows users to add on optional base attachments for different use applications.
In its base configuration the camera is configured for 360-degree action video recording, but another attachment enables an easy-to-install video surveillance application.
The base of the camera detaches via a proprietary internal connector, which Giroptic said will be openly available to accessories developers in order to encourage the creation of third-party accessories and applications.
“We wanted to be open and compatible in the 360 world,” explained Richard Ollier, CEO of privately held Giroptic. “We didn’t want people to be worried that they were too limited by proprietary standards and formats. Everything is open and accessible.”
An optional base developed by Giroptic, transforms the 360° camera into an easy-to-install Wi-Fi video-surveillance camera that screws into any ordinary lightbulb socket. The company has partnered with Ivideon to offer a special Cloud service (with varying fee levels) to receive images automatically uploaded via Wi-Fi and send alert messages via email to mobile devices when movement is detected. The alerts can provide links to live images or recordings taken by the camera, anywhere the smartphone or tablet makes a connection.
Keeping the open philosophy, Ollier said collected images from the 360° are 100 percent compatible with Google Street View technology and offer an ideal application for real estate agencies looking to showcase properties and locations.
The basic camera ships in an action video outfit, with the base offering a standard threaded tripod mount screen that lets it to work with the mounts of virtually any other action video camera on the market, or with a third-party wearable mounting accessory.
With the surrounding rubberized skin secured, the camera is watertight to an estimated depth of 32.8 feet. Giroptic also plans to offer an optional lens adapter covering that corrects for underwater lens distortion.
Ollier said Giroptic has locked down the design and packaging and is ready to launch production, but has elected to start the device over Kickstarter to gauge consumer demand.
On Kickstarter, the company is asking for a range of donations in exchange for T-shirts and other items on up to a first-production version of the camera (offered for contributions of $299 or more once the campaign achieves its goal of $150,000).
Ollier said he expects the suggested retail of the 360° to run around $499 when it hits store shelves.
The Giroptic CEO expects to quickly ramp up production through Asian OEM partners to bring the camera to retail following the Kickstarter fundraiser. The company is currently exploring distribution partners. Dealers interested in carrying the product can contact Ollier at email@example.com.