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360cam puts new spin (and bright idea) on growing panoramic camera market

360cam puts new spin on panoramic cameras 2
The 360cam offers Full HD video recording, 360-degree panoramic views, and water-resistance. And, with a light socket adapter, it can turn into a surveillance camera.
With the arrival of the Bublcam, PanonoCentr, and other 360-degree cameras all occurring in a short time, there’s no question panoramic cameras are becoming a popular trend, and there doesn’t seem to be any end in sight. Lille, France-based Giroptic is the latest to follow with its 360cam, a camera that claims to offer a true HD experience – plus an innovative home security solution.

Each company that makes these cameras differentiates their respective products with unique features. Calling itself the “world’s first full HD 360-degree camera,” the 360cam has a small shape and size reminiscent of a pear, but it’s actually a fully panoramic camera sporting three individual fisheye lenses that can capture 8-megapixel still images or 1080p video with an accompanying 360-degree, surround sound audio. Interestingly, the 360cam can also be screwed into a overhead light fixture (via an adapter that powers it), turning into an instant surveillance camera should you need one.

In creating the 360cam, Giroptic “had to rethink the entire optical and electronic design and processes,” the company says. “Instead of using off-the-shelf lenses, we developed our own three 185-degree fish-eye lenses that capture the broadest field of view in the industry. Instead of having stitching occur on a computer, like most 360-degree cameras, we developed on own on-chip stitching algorithms that allow immediate creation of .mp4 or .jpg files inside the camera. We also designed a variety of accessories to allow the use of our technology in different conditions, to make it truly versatile.”

The 360cam fits into any light fixture. Credit: Giroptic
The 360cam fits into any light fixture, turning instantly into a surveillance camera in a pinch.

Images and footage collected by each of the lenses are stitched together in real-time, which can then be exported to computers, mobile devices, or online for cloud storage via Wi-Fi. Collected images can be imported by a variety of editing programs, depending on your personal preference. Giroptic says the camera’s GPS feature is compatible with Google Photo Sphere, so you can create and contribute your own Google Street Views from your travels. The 360cam stores content on a MicroSD card. The camera is controlled via a mobile deice, and there’s an option to add an Ethernet video-streaming base, allowing users to live-stream a recording via a wired Ethernet connection. You can even go into water with it by using the underwater lens cups accessory.

To view the panorama images and videos you create, you can use the mobile app for iOS or Android, the desktop player for Mac or Windows, or, if you’re one of the early adopters, an Oculus Rift VR headset. Yes, you read that right, there will be support for the Oculus Rift, whenever that comes out. (Unfortunately, like most 360-degree cameras, you will need to view the images and videos with a special player that can display them.)

The 360cam has a side LED screen that indicates the camera’s battery status and current operating mode; in the event something goes wrong, the LED screen will also display error messages to let you know what’s up with the camera.

The camera has a rubberized skin that is water-resistant and air-tight to a depth of just over 32 feet, so you’ll be able to bring it along to the beach or a pool, or use it to capture any extreme water sports you engage in. The camera has a lot to offer in terms of action videography, but users will need to be aware that the camera’s internal battery captures only about an hour of video per full charge.

In the short video below, you can find out more about the camera and see it in action. Giroptic just launched a Kickstarter campaign for the camera on May 20 and end on July 4, with a target goal of $150,000. To get one, it’ll cost you at least $299. If successfully funded, contributors should receive one in November 2014. The company is also offering support for developers who want to utilize the 360cam with their hardware and software.

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