“Professional-grade” VR camera system designed



While companies like GoPro plan to capture immersive 360-degree videos by combining existing cameras into multi-cam rigs, others are making all-new imaging tools for “capturing cinematic virtual reality experiences.”

Palo Alto-based Jaunt says it’s “developed a new series of cameras designed from the ground up to enable the next generation of filmmakers and visual creatives to produce the highest quality cinematic virtual reality content.”

The Neo camera system has a large-format sensor, custom wide-angle optics “specifically designed for 3D light-field capture,” and a fully synchronized global shutter sensor array.

The first systems will be available this August.

“Vertical Street View” goes up El Capitan

google el cap street view

google el cap street view

From the comfort of your office chair, now you can see what it’s like to climb the world’s most iconic rock wall: Yosemite’s El Capitan.

Google’s latest in-depth “Street View” project followed climbers 3,000 feet up the mass of granite, and yields an immersive panoramic experience. Google says it’s “our first-ever vertical Street View collection.”

They team used the clunky Street View camera “meant for the inside of a restaurant” and used “tried-and-true climbing gear like cams and ropes to make sure the camera wouldn’t fall to the ground.”

google el cap 2

One of the climbers says now, “These 360-degree panoramic images are the closest thing I’ve ever witnessed to actually being thousands of feet up a vertical rock face—better than any video or photo.”

Here’s more information.

Here’s a great video of the climbers.

(I was just at El Cap today. Wisely, I refrained from climbing.)


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.


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.


Facebook: Friends share photos with your face in it



“Get the photos you didn’t take.” A new app from Facebook called Moments is by the social network as “a private way to share photos with friends.” It uses facial recognition technology to find your image in friend’s photos, and their faces in your own shots.

“With a phone at everyone’s fingertips, the moments in our lives are captured by a new kind of photographer: our friends,” the company says. However, “it’s hard to get the photos your friends have taken of you, and everyone always insists on taking that same group shot with multiple phones to ensure they get a copy.”

At any group event, Facebook adds, “you all want a quick way to share your photos with the friends who are in them, and get photos that you’re in back.”

The new standalone app called Moments attempts to solve these issues. “Syncing photos with the Moments app is a private way to give photos to friends and get the photos you didn’t take. Moments groups the photos on your phone based on when they were taken and, using facial recognition technology, which friends are in them. You can then privately sync those photos quickly and easily with specific friends, and they can choose to sync their photos with you as well.”

TechCrunch has more on the app’s development here.


Photos of the Famous yield 3D models


3d faces madeAdvances in face recognition: Making a 3D model of any object, let alone a famous face, can require first taking meticulously aligned photographs. Now researchers are perfecting a method for using existing pictures taken by paparazzi.

The University of Washington says it runs a collection of photos through its new face-tracking software. “The ability to operate on unstructured photo collections enables modeling a huge number of people, including celebrities and other well photographed people without requiring them to be scanned.”

The result is a digital doppelganger, “a controllable model of a person,” which they’re calling a puppet. “Our system is based on a novel combination of 3D face reconstruction, tracking, alignment, and multi-texture modeling, applied to the puppeteering problem. We demonstrate convincing results on a large variety of celebrities derived from Internet imagery and video.”

The full PDF research paper is here.