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Throwable 36-Camera Ball Takes Spherical Panoramas

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the anyone-want-to-play-some-volleyball dept.

Hardware Hacking 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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Not the kind... (1)

neko the frog (94213) | more than 3 years ago | (#37717608)

... of Pokemon Snap I was thinking of.

Re:Not the kind... (1)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 3 years ago | (#37717800)

Still, very cool.

and scream, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37717666)

keep your eye on the ball.

Want. (2)

Lord Lode (1290856) | more than 3 years ago | (#37717706)

Really cool man!

Viewing is going to be kind of lame (4, Interesting)

jandrese (485) | more than 3 years ago | (#37717710)

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.

Re:Viewing is going to be kind of lame (3, Interesting)

RingDev (879105) | more than 3 years ago | (#37717754)

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.

-Rick

Re:Viewing is going to be kind of lame (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37717790)

Yea, all you'd have to do is throw it into a bunker, then go into said bunker to retrieve the ball, come back out of the bunker, plug the ball into a computer and look at the pictures. Then you'll know exactly what was in that bunker you were just in. Revolutionary I tell ya.

Re:Viewing is going to be kind of lame (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 3 years ago | (#37717832)

Yea, all you'd have to do is throw it into a bunker, then go into said bunker to retrieve the ball, come back out of the bunker, plug the ball into a computer and look at the pictures. Then you'll know exactly what was in that bunker you were just in. Revolutionary I tell ya.

Not to mention, the pictures would be at a measly 2MP resolution...

So, it would be less knowing "exactly what was in the bunker" and more a fuzzy, pixellated version of what was in the bunker.

Re:Viewing is going to be kind of lame (2)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 3 years ago | (#37717902)

Not to mention, the pictures would be at a measly 2MP resolution...

Sure, if they take the bright green prototype created by a bunch of graduate students and deploy that directly into combat.

So, it would be less knowing "exactly what was in the bunker" and more a fuzzy, pixellated version of what was in the bunker.

Or, you know, by the time it was made into something usable by combat troops it would be scaled up to having more megapixels.

Re:Viewing is going to be kind of lame (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 3 years ago | (#37718136)

So, it would be less knowing "exactly what was in the bunker" and more a fuzzy, pixellated version of what was in the bunker.

Or, you know, by the time it was made into something usable by combat troops it would be scaled up to having more megapixels.

My bad for not ending my post with a /sarc.

Heck, why not fill the little bugger with explosives while we're at it?

Re:Viewing is going to be kind of lame (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 3 years ago | (#37718172)

Because you'd like to look and see if the "bunker" aka urban bulding has enemy combatants or school children in it first?

Re:Viewing is going to be kind of lame (3, Funny)

The Creator (4611) | more than 3 years ago | (#37718232)

Heck, why not fill the little bugger with explosives while we're at it?

Bad idea, it would make retrieving it dangerous.

Re:Viewing is going to be kind of lame (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 3 years ago | (#37718336)

Heck, why not fill the little bugger with explosives while we're at it?

Bad idea, it would make retrieving it dangerous.

Why would you want to retrieve an active grenade?

Re:Viewing is going to be kind of lame (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#37718426)

To see what pictures it took. Duh.

Re:Viewing is going to be kind of lame (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 3 years ago | (#37718480)

What, no wireless???

Weaksauce!

Re:Viewing is going to be kind of lame (1)

ogdenk (712300) | more than 3 years ago | (#37720184)

Ummm.... with 36 CCD sensors and the CPU to process the stream of images from them.... I seriously doubt the engineer was dumb enough NOT to at least make provisions for placing an 802.11 chipset in there.

Re:Viewing is going to be kind of lame (1)

crossmr (957846) | more than 3 years ago | (#37719708)

Not at all. Enemies will know it's a camera and try to destroy it. Booby trap it so that if they try to crush it, it explodes, or fill it with explosives and have a remote trigger.
Throw it in, grab a few pictures, then detonate if there are no friendlies in range.

Enemies run from potatoes when thrown at them (2)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 3 years ago | (#37720372)

Enemies will know it's a camera and try to destroy it.

Nope. They will assume it is a grenade and act accordingly. During WW2 a US destroyer and a Japanese submarine nearly collided. The sub was so close the destroyer could not lower its guns far enough, of course the sub crew had no such problem with its deck gun. As the sub's deck gun was being manned sailors on the destroyer noticed a bucket of potatoes that had been brought up to be peeled. They grabbed the bucket and tossed potatoes at the deck gun crew. The guys on the sub immediately began chasing the potatoes around and kicking them overboard, obviously thinking they were grenades.

Keep in mind that the brain *interprets* what you see. It sometimes "interprets" things in the image to be what would be most relevant or important. A grenade at your feet being more important than a potato.

A spherical camera in the baseball to softball size is highly likely to be interpreted as a grenade when it lands unexpectedly in your bunker.

Re:Viewing is going to be kind of lame (1)

RingDev (879105) | more than 3 years ago | (#37718274)

Heck, why not fill the little bugger with explosives while we're at it?

Urban combat is a nasty process with exceptionally high casualty rates. The last MOUT training I did as a defender (ie: local irregular militia vs significantly larger organized military assault) we inflicted over 70% casualties.

That was a 10+ years ago though, and maybe we've started learning from the Israelis.

But even with flash bangs and grenades, the advantage is in the defender's hands. Especially when you have to be concerned about collateral damage.

Given the assaulter's position, I'd much rather know that I'm about to stack and charge into a room of a family huddling in the corner than toss a grenade in and find out as we're turning over corpses.

-Rick

Re:Viewing is going to be kind of lame (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 3 years ago | (#37718420)

Aww, you guys are no fun!

Seriously, though, I get where you're coming from... what about a non-lethal alternative? That way, in the case that the room is filled with bad guys, you can disable them, instead of just giving away your own position.

Re:Viewing is going to be kind of lame (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#37719196)

I don't think there's any non-lethal alternative that can't cause long-term injury. E.g. you see flashbangs used all the time in video games as a universal weapon that lets you clear the room full of both bad guys and hostages with not a scratch to the latter, but it can cause permanent blindness/deafness in practice, and if exploded close enough, some real (and even potentially lethal) injuries. Sure, it beats being accidentally shot, but you're not going to win hearts and minds by throwing one in every apartment in the block you need to clear.

Re:Viewing is going to be kind of lame (1)

omnichad (1198475) | more than 3 years ago | (#37717942)

2*36 if it's done right...

Re:Viewing is going to be kind of lame (5, Funny)

ClintJCL (264898) | more than 3 years ago | (#37717848)

Yea. This idea obviously needs to be tabled until they develop a method to somehow transmit information across the air. Some sort of... radio waves or wifi or something. Until then, this is a dumb idea, because obviously they would have to go into the bunker and get the ball back. How stupid of them.

Re:Viewing is going to be kind of lame (2)

History's Coming To (1059484) | more than 3 years ago | (#37717978)

+1

The ideas just go on - what about fitting it with sensors from a kinect too, so you get a 3D model with your photo. IR cameras too, motion sensors - hook a bunch of them into a network, scatter them around, and you could have an "x-ray vision" HUD that shows you what's going on through walls and ceilings.

Very, very clever indeed, I love this idea for the sheer simplicity, and I'll bet you can make the basic hardware for under $US500.

Re:Viewing is going to be kind of lame (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37718048)

They have the X-ray vision. Like the gun scopes in the movie Eraser. Dude I knew was to read the expiration date off a milk jug from 200 yards away... Through 10 inches of concrete.

And they had these back in '83 (according to him).

Re:Viewing is going to be kind of lame (1)

gumbi west (610122) | more than 3 years ago | (#37718252)

I'm confused, he wanted to check if the milk was expired before he shot his way in to an overly thick but poorly insulated refrigerator? Is this because the door weighted too much?

Re:Viewing is going to be kind of lame (1)

davewoods (2450314) | more than 3 years ago | (#37718320)

No no no... The guns from the movie Eraser do not work through a refrigerator... Did you even WATCH the movie?

Re:Viewing is going to be kind of lame (1)

History's Coming To (1059484) | more than 3 years ago | (#37718334)

Fair enough, but bear in mind that I was suggesting full colour, real time video x-ray vision, without the problems of actually using x-rays. You're right though, you might want some sort of long-wavelength transmitter to get through metal or solid stone walls, wifi ain't up to the job.
(Although on that note, my dad was stopped with a present in his bag at an airport in the 80s. The security guy was able to read the Victorinox logo. It's quite impressive.)

Re:Viewing is going to be kind of lame (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 3 years ago | (#37718444)

don't discredit it yet - we just have to teach the bad guys how to play tetherball

Re:Viewing is going to be kind of lame (2)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#37718446)

Actually, a better solution might be a bit lower tech - a long wire. It doesn't matter if it's a single-use thing. Just fire it out, unspool the wire, and stream back (and record) videos until the wire snaps. The military doesn't tend to care much about equipment being reusable after it's been in combat. There's a reason they're the only people using LiS batteries - a drone typically gets blown up long before the 30 recharge cycle limit is reached.

Re:Viewing is going to be kind of lame (1)

pz (113803) | more than 3 years ago | (#37718526)

Actually, a better solution might be a bit lower tech - a long wire. It doesn't matter if it's a single-use thing. Just fire it out, unspool the wire, and stream back (and record) videos until the wire snaps.

That's how many missiles are guided already [wikipedia.org] , so doing the same thing for a maybe-recoverable camera seems reasonable.

Re:Viewing is going to be kind of lame (1)

JorDan Clock (664877) | more than 3 years ago | (#37717862)

It would be awesome if there were some way to send data without wires. :-/

Re:Viewing is going to be kind of lame (1)

panikfan (1843944) | more than 3 years ago | (#37718412)

Yea, all you'd have to do is throw it into a bunker, then go into said bunker to retrieve the ball, come back out of the bunker, plug the ball into a computer and look at the pictures. Then you'll know exactly what was in that bunker you were just in. Revolutionary I tell ya.

Yup, no way they could put a wireless transmitter that shot the image instantly back to a handheld device... absolutely no way that technology exists. Just like how NASA had to fly someone out to Mars to retrieve the images from the rovers they landed there. Man, you are smart.

Re:Viewing is going to be kind of lame (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#37718528)

High number of video streams, megapixels, battery life, re-projection, data management....

It's not a easy problem.

Re:Viewing is going to be kind of lame (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37718992)

Put a countdown led on it and the bad guys might feel like throwing it back out

Re:Viewing is going to be kind of lame (3, Funny)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 3 years ago | (#37718020)

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...

Think of the high school teenager value. Toss it into the locker room, bounce it around into the shower, instant 36 counts of manufacturing child porn.

Re:Viewing is going to be kind of lame (4, Funny)

houghi (78078) | more than 3 years ago | (#37718094)

This would be a bad idea for the US military as everybody else in the world is better at soccer.

Re:Viewing is going to be kind of lame (1)

pspahn (1175617) | more than 3 years ago | (#37718198)

Except that in much of the world, there are more females than males, and the US Women's team is pretty damn solid.

So much for "everybody else" huh?

Re:Viewing is going to be kind of lame (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37718374)

Not to mention, last I checked, the US won their group last World Cup, beating even England... soooo........

Re:Viewing is going to be kind of lame (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#37718474)

beating even England

You say that like it's an achievement. I was dragged to the pub for that game. I sat with my back to the screen, and managed to look around for the only exciting bits of the match. It contained a hilarious goal. The English keeper stopped the ball, put it on the ground, and then watched as it rolled slowly across the line...

Re:Viewing is going to be kind of lame (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37719748)

Except Canada. Those puckheads bring their hockey sticks to soccer games.

Re:Viewing is going to be kind of lame (1)

shoehornjob (1632387) | more than 3 years ago | (#37718256)

Regarding urban combat you don't want that toy. You want the M32 which can shoot 40mm grenade shells, a video camera and an infrared flare. This thing can put 6 40mm grenades on target in less than 10 seconds. Check it out http://youtu.be/aX-99a1JCc4 [youtu.be]

Re:Viewing is going to be kind of lame (1)

RingDev (879105) | more than 3 years ago | (#37718432)

And what, you're going to go building to building and fill each one with impact grenades? I'm sure that will do tons to motivate the locals to help the US.

Not to mention that the M32 is a defensive weapon, full gear and ammo load requires 3 Marines to carry. It is an impressive weapon, but it's use in offensive urban combat and room by room clearing is near nil.

Although, I did have a buddy take an M240-G, clip the carrying strap to the heat shield, forward hand on the barrel swap handle and rear hand on the butterfly, going full Rambo with it. That was at OCS, he scared the crap out of so many cadets...

-Rick

Re:Viewing is going to be kind of lame (1)

davewoods (2450314) | more than 3 years ago | (#37717812)

Oohh! You could take it one step further and just carry the ball around your house, that way it could just completely map everything out, you know, like Google Streetview.

wrong (1)

wjh31 (1372867) | more than 3 years ago | (#37717842)

this has come on a long way since you last saw it clearly. Mostly it's done with flash these days using the mouse to drag around or arrows if you prefer. Additionlly HTML5 viewers are starting to appear and mobile/tablet friendly viewers. See e.g http://360cities.net/ [360cities.net]

Re:Viewing is going to be kind of lame (1)

Grizzley9 (1407005) | more than 3 years ago | (#37717864)

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.

I'm going to have to disagree [panoramas.dk] with [panoramas.dk] that [panoramas.dk] . Plenty of great panoramas on that site and are very clean and clear. Just because the source video was crap doesn't mean they all are.

Re:Viewing is going to be kind of lame (1)

omnichad (1198475) | more than 3 years ago | (#37717890)

There's some serious distortion as you move around that image, too. Reminds me of the original DOS version of Tomb Raider. The 3D just wasn't quite right. Takes nothing away from the ball, but the stitching technique needs work.

Re:Viewing is going to be kind of lame (1)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 3 years ago | (#37718290)

There's some serious distortion as you move around that image, too.

This is induced by projection and can't be avoided. Your screen isn't the curved inward like a sphere, so when a spherical image is projected onto it you'll always get edge distortion. Note that when they crop in on the image, the distortion goes away because the image becomes flatter for smaller crops of the sphere, thus the projection becomes less distorted, in the same way that a mercator projection of the Earth is very distorting, but a mercator projection of Seattle will have relatively high fidelity for shapes and sizes. If your central vision could sweep out a 180 degree arc, and your visual cortex, which reinterprets the edges, could be switched off, you would see distorted edges as well.

The reason you don't see distortion in modern videogames is because the developers intentionally select a narrow enough camera frustum that restricts your viewing angle. The reason you see the distortion here is because the developers of the viewer want to give you a wide enough overview that you can navigate the image without regard to fidelity.

Re:Viewing is going to be kind of lame (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37717958)

Your first link:
"A plug-in is required to view this."

And I click on it, it's bloody QuickTime - no thanks.

Re:Viewing is going to be kind of lame (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#37718042)

It's hard to map a full spherical image onto a flat display.

My retinas seem to handle it just fine. Yes, you'll have to use some special software to render the image, but there's no reason you can't render a viewpoint into the image without distortion.

Re:Viewing is going to be kind of lame (1)

iroll (717924) | more than 3 years ago | (#37718680)

Your retinas aren't flat, and your display (the image your brain has processed) isn't projected on a flat surface. Try again!

Re:Viewing is going to be kind of lame (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37718642)

"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."
Motion tracking technology isn't that great yet sorry. If it is I've been missing out with all my vfx work. You kinda need like bright markers, or very well defined corners that are then pointed out to the computer for it to track them.

As for mapping a spherical image onto a flat display, this isn't a huge issue while it's technically impossible to do it without any distortion, the more zoomed you are the less visible the distortion. A mild zoom makes for more comfortable viewing it's not really a huge issue.

Re:Viewing is going to be kind of lame (1)

ogdenk (712300) | more than 3 years ago | (#37720168)

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.

I imagine the "real" intended use of this is for oppressive police/military units to toss into an area to map the room and identify potential threats easily. Things like where people are in relation to windows, any exits, how many have we wounded so far, etc.... I really doubt this will be a successful consumer product but as a product to make killing consumers easier, safer and more efficient I think it'll sell quite well.

Just toss it in a room and you've got the picture. Toss a grenade first and you get to see how effective it was without potentially gaining a third nostril in the process. Who cares about "corner distortion" and such in this situation. I imagine a modern dual or quadcore laptop would be potent enough to stitch the panorama together incredibly rapidly.

A neat toy I guess but I'm rapidly understanding the luddite mentality after the last few years and several spooky tech advances.

Hmmm... (5, Funny)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 3 years ago | (#37717718)

Hmmm so now I can take photos WITH my balls.

Re:Hmmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37717728)

Depends on if your pitching, or catching

Re:Hmmm... (1)

need4mospd (1146215) | more than 3 years ago | (#37718216)

That's certainly better than taking photos without them!

Re:Hmmm... (1)

ClintJCL (264898) | more than 3 years ago | (#37720398)

If there was justice in this world, your comment would be Score:5, and his Score:2, and not the other way around.

Parallax (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37717746)

I can see parallax in the panoramas and I think it's a design flaw. To eliminate parallax all pictures of the panorama must be taken from the same focal point. Since each camera on this ball has its focal point in a different location, all panorama's taken with it will have parallax and the images won't line up perfectly.

Re:Parallax (2)

camperdave (969942) | more than 3 years ago | (#37717850)

I can see parallax in the panoramas and I think it's a design flaw. To eliminate parallax all pictures of the panorama must be taken from the same focal point. Since each camera on this ball has its focal point in a different location, all panorama's taken with it will have parallax and the images won't line up perfectly.

However, with parallax data it is possible to extract depth information, enabling 3D images.

Re:Parallax (1)

omnichad (1198475) | more than 3 years ago | (#37717908)

And the data should be there - they just need a much more advanced image stitching system.

Re:Parallax (1)

spazdor (902907) | more than 3 years ago | (#37718086)

Yeah, that's the impression i got. With better processing this could look way better than it does in the video. It's probably not hard to infer the ball's angular velocity from the motion blur present in all the source images, which *ought* to enable some sort of deconvolution to make it all sharper.

Also, where camera areas overlap, you have "luminance comparisons" from one camera to the next. If the same surface looks darker from one camera than from another, that probably means that a light source has forced one of the cameras to auto-compensate by darkening the whole image. Account for that, the way they do in HDR photography.

If that was all done with some feature-recognition processing, the stitching could be made seamless.

Quality looks like shit (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37717780)

Why not actually put a decent camera in there?

Re:Quality looks like shit (1)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 3 years ago | (#37717878)

Why not actually put a decent camera in there?

No reason at all -- you can buy sensors and lenses of nearly any quality off the shelf.

Looking forward to seeing your new and improved pictures! Let us know when you're done.

Re:Quality looks like shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37717924)

Why not actually put a decent camera in there?

Gee, good thing critics like you weren't around when the caveman was hammering out the first wheel...

In other words, cut the guy a break and acknowledge that it's a fucking cool concept that will likely be improved upon.

That feature... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37717936)

...is reserved for the Zorb edition.

Stereoscopic? (1)

mspring (126862) | more than 3 years ago | (#37717868)

Should be stereoscopic. And there should be an immersive stereoscopic viewer.
-Max

In soviet russia... (0)

oneplus999 (907816) | more than 3 years ago | (#37717880)

balls take photo of YOU!

Smile! NO DUCK!!!!! (2)

syousef (465911) | more than 3 years ago | (#37717888)

...but seriously, neat idea but hardly for everyday use. The seams are horrible in the resulting panorama. I presume each camera is using it's own auto exposure. What you need to overcome this is for all the cameras to communicate and decide upon a single exposure. Also might be difficult for the photographer to look natural when the shot is taken, but still catch the ball.

Good to see people trying different things.

Re:Smile! NO DUCK!!!!! (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 3 years ago | (#37718230)

Disagree; there is likely to be very different levels of illumination around the sphere (starting with sky vs ground) so I call independent exposure for each camera a feature, not a bug. If the camera registration or exposure looks bad in the output, it should be fixed in postprocessing software.

Re:Smile! NO DUCK!!!!! (1)

LordKronos (470910) | more than 3 years ago | (#37718378)

I don't think the problem is exposure, as my understanding is that these are just sensors all controlled by the controller, so I'm fairly sure that's not the issue (as it would be if you had just jammed 36 off-the-shelf digi-cams in there. But even if that were the problem, it would be trivial to solve. Even if you can't force them all to use the same fixed exposure and white balance settings, that can be corrected after the fact by reading the settings out of the exif and compensating in software.

The bigger issue is that the lenses are aligned differently geometrically, so when you get things like glare from the sun or another bright source, each lens suffers a different level of glare, and rather than a gradual transition, you end up with drastic changes where the image switches from one lens to another. You can somewhat compensate for this by doing a gradual transition from lens to lens in the overlapping area, but even that's only going to partially fix the problem.

You also see a problem similar to this if you try to stitch together multiple images that were taken through a polarizing lens, as the polarizer's effect is dependent upon it's angle to the sun.

Re:Smile! NO DUCK!!!!! (1)

he-sk (103163) | more than 3 years ago | (#37719360)

The seams and exposure differences can be fixed with a little automatic processing. I sometimes take panoramas with my cellphone camera, a 4-year-old Sony Ericsson W570i with a 2MP sensor. Even if the source pictures are differently exposed, as in the image in the article, stitching them together with Hygins normalizes the exposure levels and the seams are unnoticeable. I believe Hygins uses enblend internally. (Of course, the panoramas still look somewhat cheap, due to JPEG artifacts and crappy optics, but sometimes a cellphone camera is all you have.)

Re:Smile! NO DUCK!!!!! (1)

n6mod (17734) | more than 3 years ago | (#37719778)

Yeah, I'd love to get my hands on a set of the source images, since the stitching quality in the samples they showed was *horrible* compared to what Hugin can do. They clearly aren't trying to do seam blending or photometric correction, and I think one of the images is just plain registered wrong.

HDR? (4, Interesting)

mad_minstrel (943049) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:HDR? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37718582)

SOMEONE MOD THIS UP!

This was my first though on seeing the title. Probably the same for all the other Blender/3DSMax/Maya junkies out there!

Captcha: Lonely (what too many late nights modeling makes you?)

Re:HDR? (1)

tirerim (1108567) | more than 3 years ago | (#37718618)

It's pretty hard to take high dynamic range photos with (or of) something that's moving -- it relies on taking multiple exposures at different exposure levels (either shutter speed or sensitivity) to overcome the limited dynamic range of digital sensors.

Is it canine-tested? (2)

mbstone (457308) | more than 3 years ago | (#37717946)

Except for small, hard rubber spheres, they haven't made a ball that my dog can't tear to shreds.

Re:Is it canine-tested? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37718056)

Your dog is into photography?

What camera do you currently give to your dog to play with?

I once had a bear try to eat a 1970s era Pentax K1000, I was surprised to find it still worked for a while (though the prism was misaligned)...

Re:Is it canine-tested? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37718188)

Except for small, hard rubber spheres, they haven't made a ball that my dog can't tear to shreds.

Outside of a dog, a ball is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to take pictures.

Juggling Festival (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37717968)

I'd love to take a set of 5 or 6 of these to my next juggling festival.
Where can I get one, and how much do they cost?

Nothing to really add.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37717974)

Just wanted to say, "How cool is this?" The creativity of humankind never ceases to amaze me. Things like this make me grateful and glad to be alive during this period of time. :-)

Not the first ball camera. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37717996)

There have been ball cameras before, but they were used mainly on chatroulette.

hey! (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 3 years ago | (#37718030)

They could fire these at protesters!

But does it come with a GPS? (1)

goruka (1721094) | more than 3 years ago | (#37718038)

It may get lost in the woods, fall from a cliff, eaten by an elephant or stolen by some poor kids when visiting a third world country.. It obviously needs a GPS too.

Re:But does it come with a GPS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37718354)

There's no need for it to deploy its own GPS, there's already one in orbit.

Re:But does it come with a GPS? (1)

pkinetics (549289) | more than 3 years ago | (#37718382)

It needs MMS so that it can send the photos of it getting eaten by the elephant so that we can see the inside of it.

what would impress me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37718052)

is if the ball kept track of its own momentum, by comparing accelerometers with G, and when it reaches the apex of its curve (being thrown upward), only then takes its photo. To reduce blur, of course. (I hereby put the above thoughts into the public domain: screw you patent system.)

Re:what would impress me (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37718234)

RTFA. They measure acceleration and compute the apex from that. Easy peasy and it works really well. Unless the planet you're on has wildly varying gravity, of course.

Re:what would impress me (1)

gumbi west (610122) | more than 3 years ago | (#37718322)

"I hereby put the above thoughts into the public domain: screw you patent system."

You are assuming that you own this idea. You would have to patent it before anyone else does for that to be the case.

Re:what would impress me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37718512)

no, prior publication is enough. no one can patent something someone else published (specifically enough, i.e. with similar language as the patent would have to hav) and disclaimed rights to. (regardless of whether they built it).

of course, I could be wrong on the above points: after all I'm just guessing.

Very Useful Little Gadget (1)

sehlat (180760) | more than 3 years ago | (#37718096)

I can see the military and police going ape over this. Toss a ball, get a quick survey of hostile territory BEFORE going in. Even with distortion, it will be very useful without needing VR glasses.

  It's also cheap(comparatively speaking) and light, so several can be carried.

For civilians, just think what it will do for paintball! Just make sure the lenses are easy to clean. :)

Re:Very Useful Little Gadget (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#37718332)

They have camera-carrying UAVs for that already. And satellites. This would be better for if you're in a space you can't see from the air.

Throw one of these into a cave or building, see if there are any bad guys around the corner, etc.

And as for what I've seen of high-zoot paintball matches, it consists primarily of hiding behind something and lobbing thousands of paintballs into the air trying to get lucky when the enemy peeks out from the thing it's hiding behind lobbing thousands of paintballs at you. A camera tells you little more than what you know from where the constant tik-tik-tik of the paintball gun is coming from.

Re:Very Useful Little Gadget (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37718460)

"A space you can't see from the air." is exactly what I was referring to. I know iRobot makes an expensive robot to do the job, but when you need a quick-and-dirty look, an el-cheapo ball makes a lot more sense.

Clever (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37718152)

At its highest point, it isn't moving so motion blur isn't a huge issue (unless it's spinning i'm sure they've delt with that somehow, I don't know much about cameras.)

literally (1)

pkinetics (549289) | more than 3 years ago | (#37718254)

A new way to throw up a ball... for the literal majors...

The Japanese ball is much better. (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 3 years ago | (#37718314)

Much better surveillance and pursuit ball [youtube.com] from Japan. It would be easy enough to add more cameras to that thing.

Next, do this: (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#37718348)

Use 36 video cameras and an attitude sensor, and combine the images and stabilize them to a particular attitude in realtime.

Now you can toss this thing at random and always see a 4-pi steradial view of the area no matter how it's tumbling.

This I would buy (1)

SpaghettiPattern (609814) | more than 3 years ago | (#37718466)

Absolutely cool. I like it and I would buy it.

I'd expect different types of balls. For instance one that's nearly unbreakable. Or a bigger one which you can roll down a slope.

Imagine tossing the ball from one cabrio to another. Or taking a birds eye picture of a sport your buddy is playing. Or a ball fixed on a helmet.

Great for hobby/sport rocketry or kites (1)

Sooner Boomer (96864) | more than 3 years ago | (#37718788)

If you could modify it to take continuous pictures (stills would be fine), I'd *love* to send one of these up in a rocket! You could either use it for a nosecone, or eject it with the parachute. Let it come down either with the rocket or under its own chute. Another neat thing would be to fly one under a kite.

Air cannon ammo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37719544)

I imagine this would make a cool video if stuffed in a sabot and shot from an air cannon...

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