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Throwable ball camera captures panoramic images (Publisher recommended - VIDEO)

Taking pictures is about to get a lot more fun if computer engineer Jonas Pfeil and his colleagues have anything to say about it. A recent graduate from the Technical University of Berlin, Pfeil and his team designed and built a working prototype "ball" camera- a foam-studded sphere (about 8 inches in diameter) peppered with 36 tiny 2-megapixel cell phone cameras. Throw it in the air and it captures an image at the top of the ball's trajectory. Talk about redefining photography- one day, snapping pics may give way to "tossing" them.
The 36 CMOS sensor ball camera (Photo courtesy Jonas Pfeil)A sample image from the throwable ball camera (Photo courtesy Jonas Pfeil)A sample image from the throwable ball camera (Photo courtesy Jonas Pfeil)

Panoramic images, with their large width to height ratio, are appealing because they better approximate the way we humans view the world. But capturing them typically requires a tripod, several camera positions and lots of stitching together. Pfeil's invention eliminates all that since the component images are captured simultaneously. That's especially handy since it also freezes moving objects that might otherwise blur or shift during the image-gathering process.

To view the roughly 72-megapixel images from the ballcam, the data is downloaded via USB port into a spherical panoramic viewer which will ship with the camera. The resulting images look similar to those on Google's Street View and can be similarly panned and zoomed to examine all the captured details.


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