Friday, December 16, 2011

Throwable Panoramic Ball Camera

[Thanks to Ian] 
To be frank I'm not impressed with the quality of the stitching of the images, but it's early days and it's all done in-camera and in a cheap one, so...

Anyway, I think it's a good example of how cheap electronics is changing a field and making things which we could not imagine a few years ago.

Another example: a couple of years ago, William Gibson had as an essential plot element in his book Zero History (written in 2009), lighter-than-air toy ballons with cameras, they silently "swam" through the air like a fish through water, one of them shaped like a manta ray. You controlled them with an iPhone app. In the book these were very expensive cutting-edge things, but now, just a couple years later, you can buy such things on a healthy Christmas-present budget.


Alex said...

How's the panaramic mode on your Fuji's? I thought it was a feature on the X10.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

I tried it now, but I can't figure it out. It seems people spoketh sooth when they say the manual sucks.

Anna said...

Wow ! :)

emptyspaces said...

The X10's panorama mode kicks ass! You choose either 120, 180, or 360 degrees & the direction (which lets you choose up-to-down, then tilt the camera to portrait mode for a taller panorama). Hold down the button & pan smooth & steady. Works great in decent light.

Here's one, though it hardly reproduces in all its grandeur on that page.

Bruce said...

There are major military applications for this kind of thing. Soldiers want to know what's over the hill or behind the obstruction or whatever, but might get shot at if they take a direct look. Throwing or rolling a ball is much safer.

I've been looking for a radio controlled blimp or helicopter or very light plane that will fly slowly indoors, as in one of Gibson's novels. From what I can tell they are available, some will hold a video camera, but they are pretty darn noisy.

ayeball said...

"I'm not impressed with the quality of the stitching of the images..."

Not meaning to be argumentative or contrarian, but this from a correspondent:

"I've chatted to the developer about this. Apparently the demo panoramas haven't been stitched or blended. Imagine how much better the results will be once this is done."

As you said, "...but it's early days".

Alex said...

Emptyspaces , thanks for the sample. I'd love to see what happens with moving people in the image. I can imagine this being a feature I could use.

Bert said...

"I'm not impressed with the quality of the stitching of the images..."

Do also keep in mind that, contrary to the usual case, the images are taken simultaneously by different cameras.

Differences in the various parts of the panorama will definitely reflect differences between sensors and lenses, which are much wider than what one might expect. It will take quite a bit of post-processing to blend the images seamlessly, if that's even possible at all.

Matching all optical units in the assembly to eliminate such variations would make the device much more complex and expensive to manufacture!

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

emptyspaces, how do you start the panorama function with the X10? I've tried both the "manual" and google, neither one helped. The manual says "1: Rotate the zoom ring until the zoom indicator turns white". But the zoom indicator (which I guess is the stripe on the screen) never turns white.

emptyspaces said...

Here's what you do: turn the knob on the top to the "Adv." position, then choose panorama (there are two other options there, "Pro Focus" and "Pro Low Light.") Then adjust angle and direction according to on-screen directions.

Not sure what Fuji means by manipulating the zoom barrel.

Oh, and Alex - moving people can confuse this feature a bit. They'll appear without legs or with ghosted parts (or they'll show up in two places on your picture. It's best for stationary objects/people.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

Thank you.

It seems one has to be careful, the camera "wasn't able to match" my first couple of tries, and indeed they have edges in them where exposures meet. But I'll get the hang of it.