Tag Archives: photo sphere

Samsung Gear VR

The Samsung Gear VR is a Virtual Reality headset designed to work with Galaxy Note 4 smartphone using Oculus Rift technology.

The headset uses an accelorator, gyrometer, magnetic and proximity sensors to enable interaction with a virtual environment by moving the headset using the same technology as the Oculus Rift.

On the side of the headset are a number of controls including a touch pad, back button, and a volume rocker. Focal adjustment can be also be undertaken on the system.

VR Content can be viewed through an Oculus Home App.

The systems has a 96º degree viewing angle.

The Innovator Edition is available in two editions; one which just consists of the Gear VR costs £185 with a second containing a Bluetooth gamepad for controlling content within the VR environment costs £240.

Potenital
Like other VR systems it could be used to remotely view immersive photos/videos of excavations/cultural heritage.

Unlike the Oculus Rift the system is wireless.

Limitations
The Gear VR is designed to only work with the Galaxy Note 4, if the user already owns one then it is only an additional of £185, but the phone itself costs £600 making it an expensive purchase for use with the Gear VR. Although technically it has greater potential than Google Cardboard the fact that it only works with one phone severely limits its user-ability.

The system cannot be connected to a PC so all material has to be downloaded via the phone.

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360cam

The 360cam kickstarter project is a 360˚ Full HD camera, it is designed to take 360˚ horizontally and 300˚ vertically photographs and video with the systems 3 185˚ fisheye lens 8mpx cameras.
It provides images at a 4096 x 2048 resolution and video at 2046 x 1024 resolution at 30 fps h.264 mp4 and can record video for 60 minutes. The system can stitch images together in real time inside the camera, the files can also be exported to other 360˚ photo and video software. It also has the ability to stream Live video over WiFi.

During the recording process multiple images can be taken at different exposure levels providing high dynamic range photographs, which allows more variation in texture and colour to be recorded which can be used in the study of archaeology and cultural heritage.

The WiFi allows the 360cam to be controlled remotely with Android and iOS mobile phones and tablets.

http://www.360.tv/


One of the accessories for the 360cam is an underwater lens cup allowing 360˚ photographs and video to be taken underwater.
360cam lens cup
It can be easily attached to another kickstarter project, the HERO+ intelligent drone, with an optional mount for an additional $80.

With the 360cam Oculus Rift video player it is possible to view the immersive videos created using the Oculus Rift Virtual Reality headset.
Oculus Rift

The system costs $499.

Potential
The 360cam has great potential for the immersive recording of everything from archaeological excavations to walk-throughs of historic monuments. Its ability to be simply played in an Oculus Rift player adds significantly to the presentation possibilities of the video, although the current Oculus Rift Development Kit is another $350. The underwater lens cap allows the recording of photographs and video underwater adding potential for maritime archaeology.

Whether the overlap of the individual images can be used to create a photogrammetry model of the subject matter of the recording will have to be tested.

Limitations
The cameras of the 360cam are only 8mpx so the images provided would be of a much lower size than the similar Panono Camera.

Only a mount for the HERO+ drone can be purchased, but a mount for other UAVs could be printed using a 3D printer or manufactured in another way.

Google Cardboard

Google Cardboard are VR (Virtual Reality) goggles made out of cardboard using an android smart phone as the central processing unit and display via the Google Cardboard App. The cardboard shell can either be purchased for less than £10 complete with lenses and magnet button control or the cardboard design downloaded from the website and the other parts purchased separately.

The mobile phone provides you with orientation tracking using a gyroscope and accelerometer built into the phone which means that the the app can track the movement of the user’s head updating the imagery on the phone depending on the direction that the user is facing.

A magnetic trigger on the outside of the cardboard allows interaction with the VR environment by effecting the magnetometer in the phone. Although with calibrated magnetometers this can only act as a single button, with uncalibrated magnetometers incorporated in newer phone there is greater variety of abilities with the possibility of incorporating a joypad into the outside of the case.

The Google Camera App (On Android 4.4 and later) can record 360° Photo Spheres which can easily be viewed in the Google Cardboard App on the smartphone, other Photo Spheres can be viewed be editing their file names. The app can also view videos on YouTube including those designed for the Oculus Rift or other VR Gear with two separate views in the video. Integration with Google Earth and Google Maps Street View is also possible.

Two SDKs (Software Development Kits) can be downloaded from the website:

  • The first is the Cardboard SDK for Android which allows VR applications to be quickly created in OpenGL.
  • The second is the Cardboard SDK for Unity which allows an application created in the Unity 3D game engine to be viewed in the Google Cardboard Goggles or to design one from scratch.

Although designed for phones with the Android operating system, phones using iOS can also be used in the Google Cardboard using Durvois Dive (a plastic VR Goggle frame which also uses smartphones) apps.

Potential
Google Cardboard was designed to both allow the cheap and easy ability for almost anyone to view VR and to help push forward development of the systems.

It has the ability to both view virtual reconstructions of sites and view still 360° photographs and immersive videos of sites, these can easily be downloaded and viewed by anyone anywhere in the world using the technology. The fact that the phone can be used to create 360° Photo Spheres as well enables the both the recording and viewing of views of cultural heritage and excavations with technology that may already be owned.

Limitations
Because it uses a smartphone there are limitations to its abilities that would not be there with more powerful computer systems. The quality of the imagery is also completely dependent on the quality of the smartphone screen.

Although the control is limited to the one button on the outside of the Google Cardboard some wi-fi/bluetooth game controllers can be used with Android operating systems allowing much more interaction. There have however been problems with the button working, particularly on certain models, it is after-all a technical workaround to use a device for a function it was not designed for.

Panono Camera

The Panono is an Indiegogo crowdsourcing project to create a camera ball which records 108 megapixel, 360° x 360° full-spherical panoramic images with 36 separate cameras built into the ball. It is thrown into the air and an accelerometer calculates when it is at the peak of its height and takes the photographs. Photographs can also be taken with the Panono in hand or mounted on a pole.

The results can be previewed in the iOS and Android Panono App with stitching available in the Cloud.

http://www.panono.com/ballcamera/

The Panono Camera costs €549.

Example
An example panono panorama of Grunewald Tower in Berlin taken with an octocopter (drag mouse to rotate image).Grunewaldturm Tower

Potential
The Panono camera has potential to aid in recording, post-excavation work and and visualisation of sites. Its ability to quickly record 360° panoramic images can allow important/complicated areas of an excavation to be recorded in a moment and later viewed when post-excavation work is being carried out allowing the easy visualisation of what is being written up. They can also be put on websites to show the site to the public and aid with their interaction with archaeology.

Limitations
The camera is aimed at use by the public for recording things they find of interest and is of limited use as it only takes static photographs in one place unlike the similar 360cam.

Bublcam

The Bublcam is a Kickstarter 360º camera which records spherical photographs and videos for everything from photographic enthusiasts to baby monitoring.

The Bublcam utilizes 4 190º, 1.6 megapixels lenses to capture an overlaping digital bubble. The sensor captures 5 megapixels allowing a 3840 X 3840 as a 14 megapixel multiplexed photo to be created and has high quality low-light vision. The system can also export both panoramic and HDR (High Dynamic Range) photographs. It’s tri-axial accelerometer can assist with stabilizing images when the the orientation is changed. It is capable of recording video at 30fps at 720p or 15fps at 1080p and exports MP4 format.

The sensor OmniVision will allow the user to set gamma, contrast, gain, brightness and saturation.

The internal Bublcam Wi-fi unit will allow the video to be streamed to a PC, Mac, and mobile devices on iOS or Android using the bublApp, VLC or Quicktime. Live video stitching will be available at some point.

The Bublcam costs $699 and will begin shipping in spring 2015.

Potential
The fact that Bublcam is leveraging the Oculus Rift and Leap Motion APIs (application programming interface) means that Bublcam photographs and videos can be viewed within the Oculus Rift and controlled remotely with the Leap Motion hand tracking controller.

The Bublcam can be attached to UAVs recording both photographs and video while in the air – http://www.bublcam.com/portfolio/bubl-takes-flight/ – indeed the PlexiDrone is designed to carry the Bublcam as a payload with a dedicated mount.
Bublcam PlexiDrone mount

It can also be worn on top of a helmet allowing wearable recording to be conducted.

Limitations
The relatively low level of image quality, together with the fact that the system is designed to create a panoramic photo bubble, may limit its potential for use with other techniques such as photogrammetry

News – Google Street View Trekker

Google has announced that their Street View Trekker backpack will be available to borrow by organisations including tourism boards, non-profit organisations, government agencies, universities or research groups. The Trekker bacpack was designed to enable the recording of areas of the world where the Google Street View Car could not reach, so that the imigary could be incorporated in Street View within Google Maps.

The Street View Trekker backpack consists of a dome of 15 5-megapixel digital cameras which record images every 2.5 seconds as a person walks forward, two GPS receivers which log the location data, two SSD (Solid State Drivves) which store the data and dual lithium batteries which allow 8 hours of recording. The images are procecssed into 360 panoramas when the system is returned to the office. The system weighs 42 pounds.

Potential
With a partnership with Google heritage bodies have the ability of recording walkthoughs of important monuments easily with advanced digital technology which can be incorporated into the free Google Maps system; and as of December 2014 Historic Scotland have taken advantage of this showcasing 16 of their properties.

The system provides quality site tours of important cultural heritage which can be viewed by anyone using the Street View system.

Limitations
As the system is ground based only views from this angle will be recorded, meaning that informaion from other angles is lost.

The cameras are only 5-megapixel, which work well for the intended purpose of creating web accessible 360° panoramas, but limits their usefullness for other techniques such as photogrammetry.