Looking to take the capabilities of 360-degree cameras to a new level, a group of young French designers and engineers has created a compact video camera with a 360 x 300 degree field of view that can shoot 2048 x 1024 video at 30 fps. The Giroptic 360cam was recently launched on Kickstarter where it has already received massive support, surpassing its original US$150,000 funding goal within 24 hours.

The pear-shaped camera uses three 185 degree fish-eye lenses which overlap to enable the capture 360 degree video, which is stitched together inside the device in real-time. The 360cam also takes 8-megapixel panoramic still shots at three frames per second. Video outputs are MP4 files encoded in h.264 and photos are captured as JPG files.

“For two years our team was dedicated to inventing a ground-breaking design, most notably a clever 3-lens optical system with on-chip stitching inside the camera," says Richard Ollier, founder of Giroptic. "The result is a camera that takes in everything with one click; up, down and all around. It doesn’t miss a thing,”

The 360cam weighs 180 grams (6.5 oz) and includes GPS capabilities for geotagging, gyroscope image stabilization and three microphones for surround sound recording. The interface consists of a curved LED display and the device runs on a rechargeable lithium battery with storage via micro SD card up to a maximum of 64GB, which should translate to about an hour of footage. Internal Wi-Fi functionality allows users to stream live 360 degree video to a computer or mobile device as well as remotely control the camera using an accompanying Android or iOS app. The footage is also compatible with the Oculus Rift VR headset.

The 360cam is complemented by a series accessories including underwater lens caps, mounting aids for hands free and action use and a Power over Ethernet (PoE) adapter for live events and video surveillance. For the latter application, there's also a light bulb socket adapter for screwing the device into a standard light socket.

Having surpassed its original crowd funding goal, Giroptic now hopes to hit its "stretch goal" of $750,000 which will allow the company to further enhance the 360cam with the ability to switch between 360 degree mode or a single lens mode capable of capturing higher frame rates.

“We were blown away by the support we’ve received from the [Kickstarter] community in such a short time frame,” says Ollier. “The device represents a new era in visual computing, videography and photography. It’s a great story that so many share our vision.”

The 360cam is expected to ship in November for US$499, however Kickstarter backers can secure an early production device with a US$329 pledge.

The company's Kickstarter pitch video can be viewed below.

Product page: 360cam