After visiting IFA consumer electronics fairs in Berlin, there can not be the slightest doubt that spherical photography is going mainstream. This and next year many affordable cameras capturing 360×180 and 360×360 photos will be available on the market. However, there is only one device that can be thrown (!) to the air to take a full-spherical picture, and has a resolution higher than 100 megapixels.
A spherical photo composed of a dozen shots can be taken even with a smartphone. All you need to do that is a special app. On the other hand, this solution takes time and works only in places where all objects stand still for at least several seconds. In fact, it is very difficult to find such a place and the effect will be far from perfect.
Few years ago, when Jonas Pfeil, a master in computer engineering at Technical University of Berlin, was on his vacations, it struck him that it should be easier to take panoramic pictures than taking multiple single shots and later stitching them together on a computer. He had the idea that throwing a ball-shaped camera into the air to capture images might be better. During the last couple of years, he was turning his idea into a real product with his team. Finally, after two successful crowdfunding campaigns, the product named Panono is ready to conquer the global market.
The current model of the camera – Panono Explorer (pictured above on the right) – is a small, grapefruit-sized, ball-shaped camera with as much as 36 individual camera modules embedded all around it, that fire simultaneously to capture everything in every direction and deliver a 360°x360° full-spherical, 108 megapixels panoramic image.
Press play on the movie below and watch a short interview with Jonas Pfeil that I recorded at IFA 2015.
The 36 camera modules triggers automatically when Panono is tossed into the air and reaches its apex where it is still for a moment before descending. Panono camera can also be operated with a selfie-stick, or be triggered to shoot by using a mobile device as a remote control connected through Wi-Fi when the camera is mounted on a tripod.
Viewing panoramas in the Panono App is a fully immersive experience in which the viewer seemingly moves inside the image by tilting their mobile device up and down, left and right, and all around, and pinching or spreading the image to view it from other perspectives.
The 36 camera modules triggers automatically when Panono is tossed into the air and reaches its apex where it is still for a moment before descending.
People can also explore Panono panoramas in a web browser using the cursor to move around in all directions inside the image, as demonstrated in a panorama taken of Panono executives with the Queen of England on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the „Queen’s Lecture” at the Technical University of Berlin. The Panono Camera was one of only two technology projects demonstrated at the event. Click here to open a new window and watch the 360×360 picture.
Early versions of the Panono Explorer have been in trial use for months by the marketing teams at several consumer companies including BMW (at the Auto China 2014 in Beijing) and Lufthansa, and at organizations such as the World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF Germany).
In 2014, Panono conducted a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo that raised a then-unprecedented 1.25 million dollars. To support further development and prepare the camera for serial production, Panono initiated a crowdinvesting campaign on Companisto.com, where it raised another 1.6 million euros. In September 2015, the Panono Explorer Edition will be delivered to initial crowdfunding backers. An additional one thousand cameras are being offered for purchase to tech and photography enthusiasts, hotel chains, real estates agents, etc. It is available for 1,499 USD.
When the Panono camera goes into increased production, the retail price is expected to be 599 dollars. The Panono consumer version will have all of the features and capabilities present in the exclusive Explorer Edition, but with an advanced fall protection capability that will protect the camera in the event it is dropped on a hard surface when being operated by tossing it into the air.
I acquainted with Jonas Pfeil at IFA consumer electronic show, which was held in Berlin from 4th to 9th of September 2015. If you have any questions regarding Panono, please send an email to Jonas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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