It seems like an awfully long time since these guys first appeared on the radar, but Panono is finally (almost) ready to start shipping its camera ball. Imagine it as a football that you throw in the air to produce spherical panoramic 108-megapixel images – it’s pretty darn cool. The first examples will be sent out next spring to some of the backers of the company’s $1.2 million crowdfunding campaign in early 2014.
The grapefruit-sized device has 36 camera modules (made by Jabil) embedded into it which fire at the same time as the ball reaches the its highest point once thrown. The images can then be viewed on the free Panono app, which allows you to move through them by moving the device “as if inside the image,” the company said in a statement.
If you weren’t part of the original crowdfunding campaign, fear not – you can pre-order one for $549, although there’s no word yet as to when you might receive it. Additionally, you can also support the Berlin-based startup by taking part in its new crowdinvesting campaign, the money from which will be used to manufacture the pre-orders as well as marketing and distribution.
Björn Bollensdorff, CEO and co-founder of Panono, said: “We decided against the traditional investment rounds and would rather give the crowd a chance to join our success.”
It is undoubtedly a cool product – I first remember seeing them show it off on stage at an event at the TU here in Berlin a few years ago – although I will be curious to see whether the company can avoid it becoming a short-lived fad. You can hang your Panono up with a rope, such as from a ceiling or a tree, and the device will let you know when conditions such as lighting and rotation are optimal for capturing a good quality image. A stitching algorithm puts the panoramas together.
Right now, the final design is being tested (from the sounds of it by being repeatedly dropped) to make sure the thing is hardy enough.
Jonas Pfeil, investor and co-founder of Panono, said: “It’s exciting to be just months away from realising a dream that began in 2011 to create a whole new world of photography, one in which the photographer is literally at the heart of each image in a fully spherical shot that captures everything and everyone in every direction.”
It might not quite be the next photo filter, for example, but be prepared for your Twitter and Facebook feeds to be full of spherical selfies in 2015…