Imagine filming a chaotic scene, like three children let loose under the tree on Christmas morning. In the past, a parent might have awkwardly shot with a handheld video camera—or now a smartphone—and ended up wildly swaying the lens in every direction to capture each moment.
A new camera that films 360 degrees around, all at once, could eliminate the need to move at all. Just set the Bublcam on its stand in the middle of the room, and it captures the view in every direction—up, down, and side to side—with no blind spots. The company, which has been working on the technology for three years, likens its technology to a Google Street View for the rest of us.
You can see how it works in the video below:
"It’s all about taking in the moment, the experience," says Bubl COO Greg Ponesse. "Our market approach, especially in the consumer area, is the whole idea of the lifestyle market . . . That’s why our tag line is 'capturing life in a bubble.'"
Like the GoPro camera did for outdoor enthusiasts, the Bublcam could also enable new possibilities in sectors ranging from gaming and entertainment to transportation and real estate when it comes on the market this fall.
Businesses, says Ponesse, are interested in using the detailed imagery and video to map and inspect their facilities and infrastructure. The Bubl could also help advance drone aerial imagery: By attaching the camera—which is about the size, shape, and weight of a baseball—a drone would no longer have to turn to turn around capture each point of view. Combined with a virtual reality gaming device like the Oculus Rift, it could make it easy for people to explore new worlds in real-time.
Watch a trip in a New York City taxi in full-circle view here (pan the video to see different angles):
Bubl isn’t the only camera in development that aims for a 360-degree view, but the tetrahedral design of its lenses ensures that it doesn't miss any angle of the action, according to Ponesse. It’s harder to run algorithms that stitch together four angles than it is for three, but that’s what the company has managed to figure out in its software. Unlike other new 360-degree cameras, it will also be able to send four streams to any device from each angle—rather than doing the stitching first on the camera. That allows the viewer to choose whether to watch four separate streams of the action, or one all at once. Impressively, all of this can be done live in real time.
Bubl funded the camera’s development with a successful Kickstarter campaign last year and is now working to deliver the first devices to pre-orders and funders. At $579 for the first product, it’s still pricey for most consumers. Ponesse says after the company delivers on its first orders, it will develop a model aimed at consumers that should cost less than $500.