I got the Google Cardboard recently, and I’m playing with it. Google Cardboard is a very simple piece of gadget that turns your phone into a virtual reality headset. It was released in Google I/O 2014. If you have an Android phone, you can download the Cardboard application which has works very well with Google Cardboard.
One of the function provided by the Cardboard application is viewing Photo Sphere in a virtual reality setting. Photo Sphere is a kind of photo that is (360 x 180) degrees panoramic, that is, not just 360 degrees horizontally, but also you can look up and down. It is very cool.
Check out this panoramic view from Tokyo Tower by 360cities for something similar in concept.
Here is the cool thing: The Cardboard application pushes the Photo Sphere further by putting you in an immersive experience. The experience is as if you’re at the scene looking around in person. Yes, I know it’s not stereoscopic, but hey!
I know I know! It’s hard to visualize that. You can only really experience that when you acutally play with a virtual reality headset. In that case, I highly encourage you to get a virtual reality headset like Google Cardboard, or even build one yourself! =]
However, I am actually more excited not just with photos, but videos. Check these out:
Google Cardboard doesn’t work with these though. So I haven’t try viewing it in a Cardboard for now. I will hope to try it out.
Stereoscopic Panoramic Videos?!!
What if the panoramic videos are stereoscopic? WOW!
Though, I don’t think we’re there yet. This area seems to be still in its infancy. The closest thing I’ve seen is the Panocam3D, which is a hexagonal device with 2 cameras on each direction.
The idea to capture stereoscopic panoramic videos is explained here, though this may not be the ideal solution since we still only get 360 degrees and not (360 x 180) degrees.
I studied a little bit about stereoscopy, panoramas and panoramic videos. Here are some resources if you’re interested (and notes for myself).
Demonstration of panoramic images and videos:
- Dubai panoramic video by AirPano – They have a lot of other panoramic videos too.
- 360cities – Panoramic images of many cities in the world.
Devices that can capture (360 x 180) degrees panorama:
- Bublcam – A spherical device with multiple cameras on it. The above videos are from Bublcam. It looks a pixelated but still acceptable. Not available for sale yet.
- Geonaute – Another one that looks pretty good, though the demos seem to see the apex (the top area where the corners join) seems to be a bit badly stitched. Still very good.
- 360heros – Actually it’s a gadget to clamp together 6 GoPro cameras in all 6 directions (front back left right up and down). I would think getting the Bublcam and Geonaute may be better, but GoPro probably have better resolution.
Devices that can capture (360) degrees panorama:
- GoPano – A special lens attachable to iPhone that allows you to take panoramas and panoramic videos. It works by having a 360 degree lens and bend the light into the iPhone camera. Works for iPhone only. 360 degrees horizontally only.
- Kageto – A company manufacturing the Dot, Lucy, and Jo. They are successive versions of a special lens attachable to iPhone or Android to take panoramas and panoramic videos. Similar to GoPano, 360 degrees horizontally only.
- BubbleScope – Another attachable lens to iPhone for capturing panoramas and panoramic videos. Similar to GoPano, 360 degrees horizontally only.
Software Apps that takes panoramic pictures without using another external cam/device. Apparently, you cannot do panoramic videos from these (it’ll look like a mess):
- Photo Sphere – Take panoramic photos using built-in Android Camera app developed by Google.
- Photo Synth – Take panoramic photos using this app developed by Microsoft Research.
Readings about stereoscopy, panoramas, and panoramic videos;
- Principles of stereoscopic photography using an ordinary camera – How to shoot your own stereoscopic photo. Seems like a very old page but the ideas are very clearly explained.
- What’s up with stereographic 3D panoramic video – An article that talks about how to shoot stereoscopic panoramic videos, in theory. We don’t know if this is the best way though.
- Stereoscopy on Wikipedia – As usual, Wikipedia is a good place to look at.
- PhotoCreation – Apparently someone very enthusiastic in stereoscopic panoramic videos.