With some mirror magic, the Fishball records 360 video from any iPhone camera

The best 360 cameras run upward of $500 and even the cheapest options cross into three digits, but a San Francisco-based startup is working to make an affordable 360 solution by using the camera tech already inside the iPhone. Fishball is a clip-on 360 lens for iPhone that shoots immersive photos and video, starting at $39.

The Fishball uses only the iPhone’s rear camera, and employs specially designed optics that mix lenses with mirrors to send views from two different angles to the sensor. The Fisheye app then stitches the views together to create that traditional 360 view. Inside the app, users can also share to Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Vimeo and view the footage or send the shot to a VR app with a headset.

The Fishball clips over the iPhone’s camera and the company says the lens system is kept secure with a latch system. The optics are compatible with the iPhone 7, 7 Plus, 8, 8 Plus, and X and Fishball says the optics will likely work with future iPhone cameras as well. Because the Fishball works with the sensor built into the iPhone, there’s no need for a battery, SD card, or any cords or physical port connection to the smartphone.

The 360 lens was designed by three UC-Berkeley-Haas students with backgrounds in engineering, tech marketing, and manufacturing. The group is taking to Indiegogo to fund the production of the Fishball. If the funding, development, and manufacturing are successful, the startup plans to ship to backers in June 2018. Pledges that include the Fishball lens as a reward start at $39, a 60-percent discount from the expected retail price of $99.

The Fishball campaign comes after another company launched a campaign for a similar idea earlier this week. Fusion, developed by the same company behind the Spincle 360 app, is a clip-on lens that widens the view of both the front and rear cameras to stitch them together in 360 in an app. The Fusion has a number of different 360 formats to choose from including the traditional immersive and Little Planet, but only records still photos and time-lapses. Fusion is also on Indiegogo, reaching full funding after two days.

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