Elektor Team

Panoramic photo? Throw your camera in the air

December 10, 2013 | 14:37
Panoramic photo? Throw your camera in the air
Panoramic photo? Throw your camera in the air

Panoramic photography creates fascinating images. Very wide angle images are closer to the human field of view than conventional pictures. If seen through a panoramic viewer they let you experience a location as if you were there.


Panoramic image stitching can create panoramas from pictures taken one after another. Unfortunately, acquiring the images takes a lot of time and moving objects may cause ghosting. It is also difficult to obtain a full spherical panorama, because the downward picture cannot be captured while the camera is mounted on the tripod.


A throwable panoramic camera solves these problems. The camera is thrown into the air and captures an image at the highest point of flight -- when it is hardly moving. The camera takes full spherical panoramas, requires no preparation and images are taken instantaneously. It can capture scenes with many moving objects without producing ghosting artifacts and creates unique images.


At SIGGRAPH Asia 2011, a 'Throwable Panoramic Ball Camera' will be presented as an Emerging Technologies demonstration by Jonas Pfeil, Kristian Hildebrand, Carsten Gremzow, Bernd Bickel and Marc Alexa of the Computer Graphics Group at Berlin Technical University.


The camera uses 36 fixed-focus 2 megapixel mobile phone camera modules. The camera modules are mounted in a robust, 3D-printed, ball-shaped enclosure padded with foam and handles just like a ball. The team’s camera contains an accelerometer used to measure launch acceleration. Integration allows the rise time to the highest point to be predicted, when the exposure is triggered. After catching the ball camera, pictures are downloaded in seconds using USB and automatically shown in a spherical panoramic viewer. This lets users interactively explore a full representation of the captured environment.


For hardware, the ball relies on an ATtiny24, an AVR UC3B, STM VS6724 and other parts. The software was developed using in (and using) C, C++, QT and OpenCV.


The TU Berlin team used the camera to capture full spherical panoramas at scenic spots, in a crowded city square and in the middle of a group of people taking turns in throwing the camera. Above all it was found a very enjoyable, playful way to take pictures. Check out the video the team made!


Patent pending for this product.


Source: Jonas Pfeil

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