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Throwable Panoramic Ball Camera

Panoramic photography creates fascinating images. When they are seen through a panoramic viewer, they let us navigate through a location as if we were there.

Unfortunately, acquiring all the images needed to make a full 360° panorama takes a lot of time and effort.

Ball camera
The ball-camera. Photo: Jonas Pfeil, used under CC BY.

As a master thesis project, Student Jonas Pfeil at the Technische Universität Berlin has designed a ball shaped camera that is padded with foam and handles just like a ball.

A picture of the design, downloaded from project's home page, is shown on the right.

You throw it high in the air. The camera contains an accelerometer which are used to predict rise time to the highest point. When it is at the peak of its trajectory, 36 individual 2 Mpx cameras captures 36 simultaneous exposures covering a full 360° panorama. The photographer then catches the falling ball-camera. Then, after the pictures are downloaded to a PC and stitched, a full 360° shot of the scene can be viewed in a spherical panoramic viewer. Should the photographer fail to catch the ball, the foam padding around the enclosure should protect it from serious harm.

Below is a video that shows the invention in use, and some of the amazing panoramas captured with it.

So far, only the protype exists, as an demonstration of Pfeil's Diploma Thesis “Throwable Camera Array for Capturing Spherical Panoramas”. However, the invention has commercial potential, so it may soon also be available as a commercial product.

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