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.
Recently at LeWeb in Paris in December, I was introduced to this funky looking green ball by Björn Bollensdorf.
This green ball, which is essentially a throwable panoramic camera attempts to solve the problems of panoramic photography.
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.
This camera uses 36 fixed-focus 2 megapixel mobile phone camera modules. The camera modules are mounted in a robust, 3D-printed, ball-shaped enclosure that is padded with foam and handles just like a ball. The ball contains an accelerometer which they use to measure launch acceleration. Integration allows time to predict rise time to the highest point, where they trigger the exposure. After catching the ball camera, pictures are downloaded in seconds using USB and automatically shown in a spherical panoramic viewer. This lets users interactively explore a full representation of the captured environment.
They have used the camera to capture full spherical panoramas at scenic spots, in a crowded city square and in the middle of a group of people taking turns in throwing the camera. In their experiences so far, they have found it to be a very enjoyable, playful way to take pictures.
Every picture taken with the Throwable Panoramic Ball Camera is a stunning full spherical panorama, 360 degrees horizontally and 360 degrees vertically, covering everything in every direction. Each photograph also offers rich details, thanks to the ultra-high resolution of 72 Megapixels. These properties combined let you explore the panorama, zoom in very far and even discover objects that escaped your attention while taking the panorama. But most important, it lets you re-experience your memories but in a panoramic way.
It is equipped with camera modules facing every direction which are all automatically and synchronously triggered at the peak of a toss. This solves the problem of capturing moving objects, which other techniques suffer from.
As all required electronics are implemented inside of the ball, no external device is necessary. It is still a prototype but their hope is to bring it to a commercial audience. For more on the efforts of the Ball Camera, go here.