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Throw This Camera Ball to Take a 360-Degree Panorama

It's a camera! It's a ball! It's…both!

Researchers at the Technische Universität in Berlin have come up with an ingenious Throwable Panoramic Ball Camera. The concept device is a throwable multi-sensor camera about the size of a cantaloupe that snaps a single, instant 360-degree panorama.

Taking a panoramic shot in the traditional way is a slightly complicated affair, as you need to manually rotate the camera about its own axis. While you’re spending all this time moving, an object in your shot may have moved since you took your last frame, causing ghosting in the final panorama.

The ball camera avoids this whole process by simultaneously firing off 36 fixed-focus two-megapixel mobile phone camera modules once it reaches the highest point of its flight. The device is equipped with an accelerometer that keeps track of the ball's acceleration. So the ball captures images once reaches its maximum arc because it is almost at a stand still as its velocity and the gravity acting on it are at equilibrium.

The entire camera is packed into a 3D-printed ball-shaped enclosure that is padded with foam, so it’ll probably survive a landing if you can’t catch it. Once you have it in hand again, you can take the images off the device via USB, and you can view the photos in their full Google-street-view-esque 360-degree glory using a special “spherical panoramic viewer.”

The Throwable Panoramic Ball Camera will be shown off at the SIGGRAPH Asia 2011, where the researchers hope to cull some interest and funding. Hopefully they do, because I wouldn’t mind throwing this thing around to capture some easy 360-degree panoramas.

[Jonas Pfeil via SlashGear and Gizmodo]

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