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Hardware Hacking Input Devices Hardware Build

Throwable 36-Camera Ball Takes Spherical Panoramas 140

MrSeb writes "Jonas Pfeil, a student from the Technical University of Berlin, has created a rugged, grapefruit-sized ball that has 36 fixed-focus, 2-megapixel digital camera sensors built in. The user simply throws the ball into the air and photos are simultaneously taken with all 36 cameras to create a full, spherical panorama of the surrounding scene. The ball itself is made with a 3D printer, and the innards (which includes 36 STM VS6724 CMOS camera sensors, an accelerometer, and two microcontrollers to control the cameras) are adequately padded, so presumably it doesn't matter if you're bad at throwing and catching."

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Throwable 36-Camera Ball Takes Spherical Panoramas

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  • by jandrese ( 485 ) <> on Friday October 14, 2011 @04:04PM (#37717710) Homepage Journal
    The only problem with 360 panoramas like this is that viewing it requires you to use some Quicktime-VR sort of setup that always looks bad with the corner distortion and awkward controls. It's hard to map a full spherical image onto a flat display.

    It would be cool if those cameras could be upgrade/modified to take full motion video though. You get to be the ball, and look in any direction you want. Heck, with a bit of work you could almost certainly program something that could take a few snaps from this ball in the air to instantly recreate any space in a virtual environment. The combination of parallax from the movement and multiple (presumably overlapping) cameras should make it quite possible for a computer to figure out exactly what is where and what shape it is.

    You could make spontaneous virtual tours with something like that. A couple of guys go out to a location, one guy throws the ball at the other, uploads the pictures via cell or wifi to some server that then recreates the space and lets people virtually fly around it. You could even do something like that for crime scene photos or anything that needs to document the exact state of a room.
  • by RingDev ( 879105 ) on Friday October 14, 2011 @04:08PM (#37717754) Homepage Journal

    Think of the military value though. Toss a ball into a bunker, bounce it around the corner, throw it straight up to see what's on the other side of a wall, etc...

    This could be quite the tool for urban combat.


  • HDR? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mad_minstrel ( 943049 ) on Friday October 14, 2011 @04:21PM (#37717896)
    As long as this takes HDR photos, this would be immensely useful for 3d graphics work. And no, I don't mean the useless bad-HDR-lookalike postprocessing found in phones. I mean real, honest to goodness 16-bit, not-viewable-on-most-screens HDR.

I've got a bad feeling about this.