My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: How the Giroptic's 360cam is 360 Degree Panoramic Video, Audio and Still Images Gamechanger

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

How the Giroptic's 360cam is 360 Degree Panoramic Video, Audio and Still Images Gamechanger

GoPro Camera move over. There’s a new kid in town and that’s the Giroptic 360cam, possibly a Revolutionary Game-changer in the filming of 360 Panoramic Immersive Environments.

There’s a new Sheriff in Town for the Extreme Sports crew. It’s the 360cam by Giroptic, a name that soon to become a household name in the Virtual Reality World as they’ve kicked off their own Kickstarter campaign as stated in “Livestream a streetview of your life with the 360cam”, published May 21, 2014 10:47 AM PDT by Joshua Goldman, CNET News and “MEET THE ODDBALL CAMERA THAT COULD USHER IN THE AGE OF 360-DEGREE VIDEO”, published July 4, 2014 By Les Shu, DigitalTrends.

The Giroptic Team is led by CEO, Richard Ollier and his band of merry Kickstarters:

1.      Chief Optical Engineer, Gilles Mathieu
2.      Chief Electronic Engineer, Thomas Bocquet
3.      Chief Electronic Software Engineer, Arnould De Rocquigny Du Fayel
4.      Senior DSP Engineer, Ibrahima Sakho
5.      Mechanical Engineer, Geoffrey Regia Corte

Looks like I’m a little late to the party though, as the JA$500 360cam Kickstarter campaign is already fully funded to the tune of US$1,419,068 by all of its 3,916 backers on Friday July 4th 2014, beating their intended goal of $150,000 goal by some JA$1,269,068. Those who backed this project will get their 360cam kits at their early-bird discount prices. The rest will have to wait till November 2014 when the product hits the proverbial shelf for all the world to enjoy.

What has many, such as myself excited is that this is the first 360 degree Camera that’s not only small and compact in design but is ready-to-use of the box without any special software. Not only does it take 360 degree panoramic photos and video combined with audio but these pictures are instantly accessible after the photos and videos are taken.

No special software needed to create the immersive 3D effects; you’ll need an Oculus Rift or a smartphone for that! Best of all, now that it’s fully funded, expect the 360cam to be coming by November 2014, just in time to make the Christmas 2014 Wish list for the Camera-phile in your life.

360cam goes live – Fruit Bat shaped Camera films Panoramic Video, Audio and Still Images

So for US$500, what exactly am I getting? Well the list is pretty extensive:

1.      360cam
2.      360cam Carry Pouch 
3.      Hand strap
4.      Quick start guide
5.      Rechargeable lithium ion battery
6.      USB cable

You also get some nifty free Software:

1.      360cam desktop video player object code
2.      360cam app object code (for iOS and Android devices)
3.      360cam player Oculus Rift object code

First off the bat, it's little and cute, sorta in the same way a Fruit Bat is cute. Which is exactly what it look like; a Fruit Bat with dimensions 2.7 inches high by 2.7 inches wide (6.9x6.9cm) hanging upside down. Weighing in at 180g (63oz), it got three (3) bright bulbous eyes at the top where its toes are supposed to be anchored into the wall of a cave. But its cute looks can be forgiven.

Those three bulbous eyes are its f2.8 lenses. Set at a 180 Degree angle from each other, each Camera sports a 8-megapixel BSI CMOS sensor. Combined, that's a 360 Degree field of vision with a set of three microphones that add stereoscopic sound to the HD Video that this Camera is capable of shooting. That's video at a resolution of 2,048x1,024 pixels at 25fps or 30fps with photos coming in at a resolution of 4,096x2,048 at 3 frames per second.

Not surprisingly, it supports three modes of operations, which are displayed on its curved multi-coloured LED (Light Emitting Diode) Display:

1.      Live Video
2.      Video
3.      Photo

Now that was all in its head.

Its bulbous base is packing the intelligence of this creature of the night. Sporting a microSD slot with support for 64GB SD Cards, it also has a standard (and of course expected) hole for a Camera or Tripod Mount. It also uses rechargeable Li-Ion Batteries that's USB port Rechargeable. 

Those Li-Ion Batteries are replaceable with accessories that can even use a Light Bulb Socket for recharging, making this thing really look like a Bat handing upside down. It also packing the standard time-lapse and HDR photo modes, with all pictures being geo-taggable so that you have a reference as to where the photos were taken!

Not bad for a Fruit Bat!

360cam is Waterproof – Underwater filming makes for great Oculus Rift 3D Environments

On a single charge, it's expected to last an hour, assuming that you don't use the Wi-Fi which it's packing, akin its video and photos totally streamable and really available on the Internet. Best of all, it's compatible with Google Street View and Google PhotoSphere.

Not only is it viewable on any smartphone via their 360cam iOS or Android App, but also on 3D Virtual Reality devices such as the Oculus Rift, now the property of Facebook as stated in my blog article entitled “Facebook buys Oculus Rift for US$2 billion - Facebook Social Virtual Reality Future as Smartwatches and smartglasses herald the death of the smartphone in 2015”.

This videos and pictures are stored in standard MP4 video and JPEG images as standard equi-rectangular projections and as I've said, are playable on any Standard Video player or image Editor that supports 360 degree playback.

No special software required, albeit Giroptic has a proprietary 360cam Video and Image Editor Software package for optimum Editing control on your Apple Mac, Desktop PC or Laptop. The 360cam App allows you to stream your videos live and allows you to remotely control the Camera via its Wi-Fi connection over the Internet.

The situations that I can think of where this gadget would be useful are endless. But here’s a short list:

1.      360° Video Conferencing
2.      Architectural Mapping
3.      Extreme Sports Filming
4.      Filming of Protected areas for Wildlife Conservation
5.      Hospital Patient Monitoring
6.      Mining Expeditions
7.      Preservation of Archaeological Digs
8.      Surveillance security system
9.      Virtual Reality Environment filming
10.  Webcam Service
11.  Wildlife Filming

Interestingly too, it’s totally waterproof, something completely unexpected for ANY electronic device, be it a smartphone or a Tablet, let alone a 360 degree Camera. And yet the 360cam, albeit as comfortable in the water as Fruit Bats are in Caves, doesn’t take great pictures underwater due to distortion caused by Refraction through water. To this end, the Giroptic has included a set of goggles with the Camera that basically makes it possible to film underwater.

Another accessory that I wish that this came with was a Drone. That way, you could have it hover above and film you in panoramic 360 Degree. This can be done using the AirDog Drone or the Hexo+ Drone as described in my blog article entitled “AirDog Personal Drone – Action Selfie-Drone with an attachment for a GoPro Camera” and “Hexo+ Semi-Autonomous Drone Controlled by Apple iOS and Android – Despite no AirLeash Six Propellers better than Four as it won’t run away”.

However, I was hoping for a more complete solution instead of having to have multiple Apps on multiple Cellphones. Still, this is not just a successful kickstarter, but we may be witnessing a game-changer in the filming of 360 Degree Immersive Video environments that are not only viewable but useful in as VR Video Games.

For this, I tip my hat to the Giroptic and their 360m Camera; successful Kickstarter and Game-changer. Hoping to see this in November 2014 just in time for Christmas 2014! 

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