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Hardware

This 360-Degree, 4K Video Camera isn't Getting Kickstarted (Video) 61

Posted by Roblimo
from the not-everything-makes-the-cut-even-if-we-like-it dept.
This is something that caught Tim Lord's eye as he cruised the 2014 Bay Area Maker Faire: A 360 4K-resolution video camera. It's not out yet for retail sale, but if you look at the Centrcam website you can see a number of videos their cameras have shot, including some high-motion ones that they say, truthfully, are excellent to watch full-screen. The people who came up with this aren't college students who have never done any professional design work. Rather, they're "the same team that engineered and built the Apple iPhone cameras." So it's no wonder they have made something pretty cool that has already been used to make videos for Fox Sports, National Geographic, and the U.S. Army, among others. Their Kickstarter blurb is pretty cool, too. It is one of the most detailed ones we've ever seen. It's sad that they only got $607,628 of their $900,000 funding goal, considering all the work they've put into their product, along with the great presentation. They didn't know this would happen at the time this video was shot at the Maker Faire; their Kickstarter time window didn't close until four days ago. But there are other ways to fund a startup, and we hope they manage find one -- because we would eventually like to get our hands on one of their cameras and test it for ourselves, possibly with a little help from some of the Bradenton Riverwalk Skatepark regulars. (Alternate Video Link)

Paul Alioshin: CENTR camera is a new technology. We’re creating a 360-degree high-definition video that captures the whole panorama all the way around you.

Tim: How are you doing that?

Paul Alioshin: We’re doing it by using four cameras, four HD cameras. Frame by frame, we’re taking each of the cameras and we’re stitching those frames together all the way around. It sounds simple but it’s actually not. It’s actually kind of hard to get it right and to get the exposure correct and the color balanced all the way around. One of the things that’s pretty unique for us is that we can do it in real time.

Tim: Do it in real time, you can do a lot of streaming this 360 degree vision to somewhere else?

Paul Alioshin: Correct, yes. You can stream it, our product will pair to your phone over Bluetooth and stream video over Wi-Fi. In the past we’ve done live events for sports, like we are at _____1:18 through ESPN, and we’re able to stream live video from the event and talk to the TV broadcaster.

Tim: Can you talk about the hardware itself? You’ve got some samples here in front of you.

Paul Alioshin: Yeah, sure. So this is a very early first prototype as you can see. It’s of the finest construction. It’s four GoPros and we had to hack them so that we could sync them all together. In this case, we were recording each of the four cameras and then we take the videos separately and put them it on a Mac and stitch it together using our algorithm. And so we learned a lot doing this, which is great, and captured a lot of video, learned a lot of stuff. Then our next prototype was a 3D printed case, again four GoPros that we hacked. In this case, we were able to pull live video out of the GoPro, out of this HDMI port and we used standard adapters to get that video into a Mac. At that point, we could develop live stitching capability. And so now with that we’re able to run live.

Then we built our next prototype, which is this guy. This prototype is a self-contained unit. We have four HD cameras again and this is our cameras now, not GoPro cameras. And in this case we’re recording 720p and again we stick SD cards and do the processing on the Mac. And now the product seems to disappear.

Tim: What is your _____3:16.

Paul Alioshin: So this is the product and this is what is on Kickstarter right now for hundred bucks off which is great. This is four cameras also, staying with the same design, and in this case there are four mobile phone cameras. If you think about it

Tim: _____3:37.

Paul Alioshin: Right. Because we’re taking a panorama all the way around, the shapes, you want to have these cameras pointed in all directions of the compass. And coming from Apple we all have a pretty ingrained sense that things need to be beautiful. So we liked this design and also we are trying to figure how could you hold this thing. Because now you’re going to block it, it is part of the view. So we came up with this idea of a hole in it, where now you can kind of mount it or you can hold it. It’s also the right size to fit on a beer bottle. You always have some to put it on.

Tim: As this is a quite different things can you explain what _____4:29 what is this for?

Paul Alioshin: So these are 2K professional broadcast cameras I mentioned that we are at _____4:37 to ESPN so in that case we use these cameras and we took this video live back into a Mac and did the processing in our algorithm.

Tim: Let me ask one thing, what kind of software does it take to view the outside?

Paul Alioshin: It does not take any software. We’re doing the processing so those algorithms that we’re using on the Mac before are now imported to a new graphics chip. So all the stitching, everything is done on the graphics chip. So what comes off either streaming or on your SD card is a fully done panorama video. So say for 1080p you would get a video that’s 1080 X 7000, and it’s not 1920 x 4, because there is some overlap.

Tim: And if you want to view that as 360-degree unit what do you need to do that?

Paul Alioshin: So you can open it, you can edit it and premiere, final cut and whatever, you can view it with QuickTime or VLC. We also do have an interactive viewing which allows you to navigate around the view as you’re watching it. That does require a different player. We have a Flash player, that works now and you can play with it on the website.

Tim: Right now it is May 2014 as I do this, when will people who are for instance ordering on the Kickstarter, when will they start to see the cameras?

Paul Alioshin: So we have two different things on the Kickstarter relating to that. We have an early kind of beta tester and those will come out in November. Those will be some of the first cameras off the line which people will be able to help us in terms of features and testing to integrate. And everybody else would be able to get it in February of 2015 after our announcement at CES.

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This 360-Degree, 4K Video Camera isn't Getting Kickstarted (Video)

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 03, 2014 @10:01AM (#47155381)

    Good work, now we can be disappointed, too.

    • by zlives (2009072)

      for those really interested.
      there are other kick starter devices like https://www.kickstarter.com/pr... [kickstarter.com] but others as well....

      • by Roblimo (357)

        Not only that, but there are other ways of raising an early round of funding if you bomb on Kickstarter. It's the biggest crowdfunding site, but neither the only one nor necessarily the best. Here's an article on Forbes.com about crowdfunding: http://www.forbes.com/sites/ch... [forbes.com]

        Now, the sad thing about Centrcam is that they had excellent engineering, and a detailed proposal, but that proposal was probably too technical for the majority of people who might have helped them through Kickstarter. Other sites migh

  • Dear Slashdot (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Tuesday June 03, 2014 @10:09AM (#47155499) Homepage Journal
    If you're going to post stories about a Kickstarter, do it BEFORE THEY END. It's pointless to post after the Kickstarter has ended. Given the way the Editorial cycle works on Slashdot, you should probably post at least a week before they end, so the story shows up at least a couple of days before it's too late to do anything about it. I had never heard of this Kickstarter until this story, and I suspect I'm not the only person in this boat.
    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by BitZtream (692029)

      This is simply roblimo posting a story for timothy. When timothy is involved you can rest assured there will be much ignorance and stupidity involved as well, hence why it comes up now rather than then.

      The upside to it is also that given history, you don't want to be involved with anything timothy posts about. He's about the biggest idiot I've ever seen and thats impressive considering the Internet's sheer size.

      This story is just another excuse to make it appear that timothy isn't worthless, and whats mor

    • by Anonymous Coward

      https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/giroptic/the-worlds-first-full-hd-360-camera

      Another project, similar idea but can capture both the cylindrical (above/below camera occluded) 360 projection and dome (below camera occluded) 360 projection.

      Oh, and the Kickstarter hasn't ended.

    • Hello dumbass. Slashdot is not a fucking advertisement platform. In fact, it is preferable that Slashdot does NOT give free publicity to some random bullshit. In fact, slashvertisements occur so often, I will be surprised if, someday, the editors are not exposed as corrupt. This sort of thing restores a shred of credibility...though it could equally be described as incompetence.
  • Why is it sad that people didn't donate money to a for profit company?
    • by tomhath (637240)
      True. As I understand it, Kickstarter is for creative works that are not really intended to be commercially successful, just cool. If you're looking to start a business raise some venture capital.
  • Indiegogo and Rockethub offer the option (Indiegogo) or have a model (Rockethub) where you keep what you raise (minus a cut, of course). Kickstarter is of course all or nothing.

    For example, Rockethub's terms of service are described in their FAQ [rockethub.com], which says

    "Reach your goal: 4% commission fee + 4% credit card handling fee
    Don't reach your goal: 8% commission fee + 4% credit card handling fee"

    Yes, Kickstarter is roughly an order of magnitude bigger (in terms of participation) than either Indiegogo or Rockethub

    • If it still puts you on the hook to produce something and you don't have enough to do it, I'd rather get the nothing and be able to walk away.

      Imagine a Rockethub fund raiser to go to Mars that only reaches 80% of its goal. You'd get a ride to mars, but will you have enough food and a safe landing too?

    • by cdrudge (68377)

      but an actual take is better than a zero take.

      Unless you're one of the backers that contributed $600k but may never see any type of return. It depends on what exactly your funding. Some projects might be able to scale back and still be successful in a more limited ways. Other projects however may require the full amount so that the economy of scale kicks.

      • by Roblimo (357)

        Not so. With Kickstarter, you pledge whatever amount you like, and you only come up with the money if/when the full amount has been pledged. So if a project asks for $900,000 and only gets $600,000 pledged, everybody just says "Oh well" and walks away.

        • by cdrudge (68377)

          Right. The OP was saying that Rockethub and Indiegogo have options that can allow a project to be partially funded instead of an all or nothing. In those cases someone who has pledged an amount and is expecting something in return may never receive it. So while the project may be happy to at least get partial funding, the pledgers may be unhappy. But of course that's always a risk with any type of kickstarter-like project where things don't pan out.

          If you need to make 10,000 widgets to reach a price point

  • This would be great as a dashcam. It would have retailed at $399, which is less than my $500 deductible; if it saves me from even one single careless, lying motorist who caused an accident and then tried to claim it wasn't his fault, it's more than paid for itself. And that's before even considering increased premiums and fines.

    I really hope this gets produced anyway. I'll be first in line to get one.
    • by BitZtream (692029)

      You do realize that while you're rates may not go up after one accident, if you have more than one, regardless of fault, your rates are going up, right? First one is an accident, second one is a pattern, third one that you aren't 'at fault' for ... is your fault. You're doing something at that stage to put yourself in the wrong situation.

      Second, you're willing to spend 80% of the cost, to get you out of the rare circumstance where the only evidence is your word against his word ... and ignoring the fact t

      • How useful do you think this thing is going to be on your roof (for unobstructed view) after someone steals it?

        Actually, I know exactly how I'd mount this... inside one of these: http://telcoantennas.com.au/si... [telcoantennas.com.au]

        Unless you looked closely, it would look like a standard antenna, not like some fancy expensive camera. As an added bonus, these are mounted as part of the refit on most police vehicles (including bait cars) and cars with these mounted are often avoided by smart car thieves (not Smart Car thieves).

        You could make nifty travel videos with these too; and if they had wireless communication, the days of "oh! Lo

  • by wonkey_monkey (2592601) on Tuesday June 03, 2014 @10:37AM (#47155891) Homepage

    including some high-motion ones that they say, truthfully, are excellent to watch full-screen.

    Which are the "high-motion" ones? I'd hope that would mean upwards of 50fps. Did you just mean "lots of things moving around"?

    • I think the high motion cams are those ones they did for Fox sports -- 3 industrial cams instead of the four phone cams, likely at 60fps. The downside is that they have to be connected to a computer instead of being standalone.

  • Use case? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by slinches (1540051) on Tuesday June 03, 2014 @10:52AM (#47156059)

    Am I missing an obvious need for full 360 panorama cameras? Maybe some small businesses or tourist destinations would want one to stream a panorama of their location on a website or something. But what would the general populous do with it that justifies a $250 price tag? Maybe use it as a home security cam?

    Also, why is it a bad thing that a Kickstarter like this failed? The team invested a relatively small sum of money to find out if there was a wider market for their product and as it turns out, there isn't. That's far better than the other option of paying (most likely more than what Kickstarter cost them) for market studies and then still having to find investors (or lenders) to front the costs of a full production run.

    • They should open a kickstarter project for growing a second visual cortex in the human brain. *Then* this camera project will become useful. Perhaps.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Am I missing an obvious need for full 360 panorama cameras? Maybe some small businesses or tourist destinations would want one to stream a panorama of their location on a website or something. But what would the general populous do with it that justifies a $250 price tag? Maybe use it as a home security cam?

      Also, why is it a bad thing that a Kickstarter like this failed? The team invested a relatively small sum of money to find out if there was a wider market for their product and as it turns out, there isn't. That's far better than the other option of paying (most likely more than what Kickstarter cost them) for market studies and then still having to find investors (or lenders) to front the costs of a full production run.

      Dash cam for airplane flying, car racing, motorcycle trips, mountain biking... just the things I can think of off the top of my head.

      Imagine how much cooler all those crazy Russian dashcam videos would be if you could see 360 degrees of the action. ;)

    • by timeOday (582209)
      Not reading their minds, but IMHO the use case is action cams. Shoot now, aim later (in postprocessing), and with as much image stabilization as you like. Of course, cropping out 80+% of the image, you want to start with high resolution which is why 4k (or even higher) is good.
      • by slinches (1540051)

        True, action cams seem to be what they're promoting. If it's durable and has a high enough frame rate, that seems possible. Although my personal opinion is that market may already be near fully captured by GoPro and the added feature of full panoramas is only needed by a subset of it.

        A few sibling posts suggested they'd be useful as dash-cams. This seems unlikely since placement on the dash would capture video of the occupants, which (while potentially entertaining for everyone else) is counter to the pu

    • by Type44Q (1233630)

      Am I missing an obvious need for full 360 panorama cameras?

      Yes. Among other things, it's the next logical step in the evolution of that we affectionately refer to as a dashcam.

    • Re:Use case? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Tuesday June 03, 2014 @01:28PM (#47158167) Homepage Journal

      Am I missing an obvious need for full 360 panorama cameras?

      I don't know if it's obvious, but this will be great for VR. If you have a binocular headset with head tracking, it's pretty clear that the next thing is for you to do is to look around. Take Endless Barrels [youtube.com] for example. I'd love to give that a go in 360.

      Speaking of which, GoPro should hire this team. If they don't, Facebook will, and that would be worse.

      • by Molt (116343)

        Some 360 degree cameras will be great for VR, but this one wouldn't. The vertical field of view isn't that great and it'd just appear as a loop round you rather than actually giving you the experience of being there.

        Something like the Bubl [bublcam.com] camera would work a lot better, there you almost have a full spherical capture so the user can look up and down.

    • Village idiot don't understand something, say that therefore it's useless... Movie at 11...
      • by slinches (1540051)

        Did I say there was no use at all? Of course not. I'm sure someone really wants one of the these cameras. The question is whether there are enough of those people to commit to a full commercial production run. The Kickstarter was a test to see if there was enough demand at the $200-250 price point to make large scale production worthwhile. As it turned out, there isn't. I didn't decide this, the market did.

        If you have something useful to add, like the obvious use case to which you implicitly refer (wh

  • Wonder if he's as bad at sex as he is at editing?

  • by koan (80826)
    If you use Kickstarter is there any reason you can't accept funding from other sources? Because Kickstarter is something I can see everyone using just to pick up some extra funding. Sort of Kickstarter abuse, but then I would guess it's only abuse depending on the end result.
    • by jandrese (485)
      Many Kickstarters setup Paypal or other pre-order sites after the fact. Theoretically the point of Kickstarter is to get a product started, so once it is released the people need a plan for regular sales anyway. Adding a traditional pre-order channel to that is hardly a stretch after you've done a Kickstarter.

      For a failed campaign however, that pre-order site would have to cover all of your expenses because failed Kickstarters do not give the backers any money. The pledges are simply never processed.
  • by Maxwell (13985) on Tuesday June 03, 2014 @11:23AM (#47156489) Homepage

    Looks better, works simpler, uses a sane resolution....

    https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/bublcam/bublcam-360o-camera-technology-for-everyone

    They are well into stretch goals...

    • Looks better, works simpler, uses a sane resolution....

      https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/bublcam/bublcam-360o-camera-technology-for-everyone

      They are well into stretch goals...

      Worse technology (check the 1080p frame rate - yikes! That will not look natural at all.) Higher price. It does look better though. The main difference is what I see as a problem with a lot of Kickstarter campaigns. Bublcam is getting funded because they asked for less than half of what the other guys want. There's a really simple rule of Kickstarter - the less money you ask for, the more likely you are to get it. The other guys raised more money than Bublcam, but because their goal was so high, they

  • It only records cylindrically, not spherically.

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