Throw this camera into a bad situation

bounce imaging 3

bounce imaging 3

Afraid of what lurks around the corner? Throw this camera in ahead of you.

The Explorer was invented at MIT a few years ago — and it’s now being sold by the Boston-based spin-off firm commercializing the idea, Bounce Imaging.

The softball-sized tactical sphere is equipped with multiple cameras and LED lights inside its rubber shell, which give a quick assessment of a dangerous situation. The app on a mobile device even stiches together the multiple viewpoints into one larger panoramic view.


The company is now sending out 100 Explorers to police departments nationwide. Other first responders will receive them in the near future, MIT reports. Upcoming models may also add sensors for radiation, temperature, and carbon monoxide. The base price is now about $1500.


Updated thermal camera boosts resolution



The new thermal imaging accessory for smartphones from Flir Systems is smaller than its predecessor, and provides four times the resolution.

The $250 Flir One plugs into an iOS or Android device to see heat and accurately measure temperature variations smaller than a tenth of a degree. It enables a host of practical applications, the company says, “from identifying energy inefficiencies and water leaks in a home, to enabling safe and enjoyable outdoor exploration.”

The device contains both the company’s “Lepton” camera that senses thermal images, and a standard camera, and combines the two shots into one picture that you can see more clearly than a standard thermal shot.

flir two cams

Here’s more information.


Polaroid adds WiFi to Cube cam

Polaroid Cube+

Polaroid Cube+

With added WiFi, Polaroid’s lifestyle/action camera can now be controlled by an iOS or Android device.

Mobiles can also act as a viewfinder — the tiny cam (35mm in each dimension) otherwise does not have a display.

The Cube + captures still images and 1080p video. The $150 camera has a built-in magnet to attach to such mounts as bicycle handlebars, helmets, and household appliances, the company says.


ISO 51,200 film lit by Moonlight

Lit by Moonlight

Lit by Moonlight

Without a big SFX budget, how can you make a short sci-fi film look like it was shot on an alien world?

Use Sony’s A7s, the mirrorless full-frame camera known for its extreme light sensitivity, and shoot the whole movie under moonlight, that’s how.

The director also used Canon prime lenses and the Metabones Speed Booster, and shot at ISO 51,200.

The 7-minute film Refuge is available here. It’s reportedly the first narrative film shot by moonlight, and has some R-like action and language.

Automotive Imaging Updates

ford jet camera cleaner

Ford focuses around corners

ford car cam

Automotive giant Ford says its new vehicle camera technology “can help see around corners even when drivers cannot.”

The split-view camera feature “helps drivers see traffic and obstacles that enter the vehicle’s path from the side by displaying a 180-degree view of the area in front of or behind a vehicle.”

The viewer combines real-time video feeds from two wide-angle cameras, one each in the front grille and tailgate. “A tri-panel display in the 8-inch screen helps customers understand quickly whether an obstacle is coming from either side or straight on,” the company says.

The view “automatically shuts off when vehicle speed reaches 6.2 mph.” Weird how a visual can be billed as a safety aid, but at a certain speed becomes a distracting hazard.

Ford adds that it plans to make rear-view cameras standard on all of its North American light passenger vehicles by 2018, and front cameras available on a majority of its vehicles globally by volume by 2020 — meaning the company plans to put more than 2 million new cameras a year on the road.

Also upcoming: up to seven cameras for lane-keeping assistance, and enabling customers to see more angles around a truck and trailer.

ford jet camera cleaner

Garmin’s ‘Onboard Eyewitness’

garmin dezl cam

Garmin says its latest navigator has a built-in dash camera to serve “as an onboard eyewitness.”

Aimed at truckers, the gadget continually captures the view ahead, and then automatically saves footage on impact — yielding “proof of road incidents” that can “protect their driving reputation.” Location, speed, date and time data can be optionally recorded allowing drivers to know precisely when and where an incident occurred.

The $500 dēzlCam has an adjustable swivel lens, as well as a 6-inch touchscreen, and a magnetic mount.


Samsung Sees for Safety

samsung Safety truck

A camera on the front and a big-screen on the back let you all-but see through a semi truck.

Samsung says its “Safety Truck” could revolutionize road safety.

“Have you ever found yourself driving behind a semi-trailer truck?” the company asks. “If you’re on a single-lane highway or road, it can be a nightmare. Even though the truck is driving relatively slowly, you cannot overtake it due to its size, and because you cannot see what is happening in front of the truck.”

Now, Samsung adds, it’s “developed a solution that may make this problem a thing of the past.”

The Safety Truck has a wireless camera attached to the front of the truck, which is connected to a video wall made out of four exterior monitors located on the back. “The monitors give drivers behind the truck a view of what is going on ahead, even in the dark of night.”

This allows drivers to have a better view when deciding whether it is safe to overtake, the company says.

Samsung tested a prototype and confirmed “the technology works, and that this idea can definitely save the lives of many people.”

Here’s more information.




Low-cost high-tech drone cams

hydrofoil drone

blue night drone

Early quadcopter popularizer Parrot has expanded its line up of robotic drones with a bunch of “ultra-technological toys that are ready for action on the ground, in the air, and on the water.”

You can pilot the miniaturized robots with a smartphone or a tablet. Each has a wide-angle camera that streams live views on the screen of the piloting smartphone. They also capture pictures and videos which are stored on the internal 4GB memory.

— The $190 Jumping Drones are billed as smart terrestrial robots, with a patented spring-mounted system that lets these tumblers jump up to 2.5 feet and always land on their wheels. They have a speaker and a microphone, so in the walkie-talkie mode, you can talk and listen through them.

Pre-programed acrobatic movements include spins, jumps, and rolls. The Night model has LED lights; the Race version accelerates to 8 mph (twice as fast as the Night).

— The flying acrobatic robots are “ultra-compact and light-weight” at 1.2 pounds, and “have remarkable flight stability” thanks multiple technologies:

  • a 3-axis accelerometer and a 3-axis gyroscope that “measure and analyze each movement or inclination of the drone and, thanks to the autopilot, rectify the position of the minidrone.”
  • every 16 milliseconds, the camera compares a new image of the ground to the previous one to determine the drone’s speed.
  • an ultrasound sensor analyzes flight altitude up to 13 feet high.
  • a pressure sensor controls the altitude above that height.

They fly at 11 mph, and have preprogrammed turns and flips.

The $130 Night model has LED lights; the $99 Cargo version can carry small items.

— And finally, there’s the new Hydrofoil model that can “rise out of the water to hover over the surface and rush like the racers in a sailing match.”

hydrofoil drone

With four propellers, “it slides through the water and stays about 2 inches above the surface with amazing stability and agility,” the company says. It’s $179.


Improved Search: Instagram explore its images

instagram explores

instagram explores

Remember when Instagram was huge?

Well, it’s even bigger now: Reportedly, more than 300 million people use Instagram. “More than 70 million photos and videos posted to Instagram every day,” the company says.

And that means “Wherever something is happening, chances are you can see it here.”

That is, you could see the photo if you knew where to look. In the past, that had been a difficult challenge.

Now the social imaging service added features “that will help connect our community to the world as it happens.”

The Explore page has trending Tags and Places, “to make discovery immediate and effortless.” It will surfaces trends as they emerge in real-time, the company says. This can offer interesting multiple perspectives on whatever hashtag you enter: “Rich visual content captures everyone’s unique take.”

The “dramatically improved” Search looks at locations, and scans people, places and tags all at once.

(Instagram is owned by Facebook. But strangely, the site’s blog is run on Tumblr, which is owned by Yahoo…)




Fly For Me drone service takes off

Fly4Me drone

Fly4Me drone

Need some aerial imaging but don’t want to buy and crash an expensive drone of your own? “Let us fly for you,” suggests a new service. “The future of on-demand drones is here.”

Fly4Me is an online marketplace that matches customers with verified (and insured!) pilots. “You will be able to review pilot profiles and start receiving bids within 24 hours of your proposal,” it says.

And once the drone is in the air, “you will be able to have a fully interactive experience by leveraging our ground-breaking technology,” Flight Stream, which lets you “connect with your pilot during the flight to get a view from the cockpit. You will also be able to comment on flights in progress, ensuring that the drone goes exactly where you need it to.”

The company adds that it can provide “footage that will last a lifetime. Whether it’s for a wedding, graduation or birthday party, our drones deliver high-quality images that will enhance any private event.” It’s also pursuing real estate, mapping, and other areas.

The service says it’s already approved by the FAA.

Here’s more information.


Distinctions disappearing: InfoTrends studies interchangeable lens cameras

infotrends study

infotrends study

The distinction between SLRs and competing compact interchangeable lens cameras CILCs is disappearing, reports research firm InfoTrends, “given recent camera introductions and their positioning in the market.”

“2014 represented a year of change in the digital camera market, with significant decreases in unit shipments and sales across multiple global regions,” the company says. “Nevertheless, InfoTrends expects the ILC market to remain profitable for innovative imaging companies that continue to introduce new products and respond to consumers’ needs.”

“At this junction of the DILC market, vendors need to boldly move forward and not be deterred by the decline in sales that the market has experienced recently,” adds InfoTrends’ Ed Lee. “Opportunities still exist in this market. Smartphone owners are now the breeding ground for first-time DILC camera owners. There is a segment of smartphone owners who are graduating from casual photographers to photography enthusiasts and are beginning to seek out education opportunities to learn more about the art of photography.”

The company’s studied the U.S. interchangeable lens camera market since 2008, and the 2015 edition of its report looks at the relative importance of product attributes, as well as buyer demographic characteristics such as age, gender, income, parental status, and photographer type, and compares the demographic profile of smartphone only, point & shoot, CILC, and DSLR camera owners.

Here’s more information.


DxO attaches camera to an iPhone

dxo one wood

dxo one wood

A new module provides iPhones with much better image capture, thanks to a 1-inch sensor and f/1.8 lens.

Imaging developer DxO has branched out from its software applications to introduce its “revolutionary DSLR-quality camera that attaches directly to the iPhone.”

The DxO One has a 20-megapixel 1-inch CMOS BSI sensor and a fixed-focal-length f/1.8 aspherical lens with a variable 6-blade iris. The aluminum camera weighs 3.8 ounces and “is so small that it easily fits in a pocket.”

The $599 camera attaches to the phone through its Lightning connector, and uses the iPhone display as its viewfinder. The camera swivels 60 degrees.

dxo one lens

DxO claims that its camera can “shoot crystal-clear images under moonlight, which is incredible for a camera this small. The shallow depth of field and bokeh of the lens at f/1.8 is absolutely perfect for portrait photography.”

Here’s more information.


(I’ve long advocated cameras that attach to phones, but would prefer an always-on case style instead of the add-on modules developed by Sony, Olympus, and now DxO. My take on what cameras need coincidently just ran at Digital Imaging Reporter here.)