Donut-shaped CENTR video camera takes 360 degrees worth of footage
By C.C. Weiss
May 9, 2014
Video professionals with the US Army, Red Bull and National Geographic are already using the technology, and you'll soon have your chance. The consumer-ready CENTR Camera aims to make it easy to capture 360-degree HD footage, recording your world in full.
Built by former Apple engineers, the CENTR has four HD image sensors mounted around a palm-sized chassis. Instead of filming straight-on, like the average video camera, it's constantly filming 360 degrees of footage. CENTR's 20-variable image calibration stitches images from the four sensors into a single video automatically, so they're available to view right away without any complicated post-filming editing.
"When shooting video, we pull either 720p or 1080p RAW video data from each camera," CENTR explains on Kickstarter. "When each camera is shooting at 1080p resolution, we are processing 4K of panoramic video data in each frame. The effective resolution after image stitching is 1080 x ~7500 pixels. The final panoramic width for each video actually varies slightly based on the calibration parameters automatically set by CENTR."
The footage can be viewed in real time using the CENTR interactive player on a Wi-Fi-connected desktop computer, tablet or smartphone. It looks like a normal video at first, but unlike your typical YouTube fare, you can scroll to spin it around. In a video made from the cockpit of a plane, for instance, you start off looking forward from the pilot's POV and can then scroll to look over the wing and keep going to view the pilot himself.
In addition to video, the CENTR can be used to capture time-lapse panoramic stills photos. Each image sensor is 5 MP, allowing for 20-MP time-lapse photography. The camera also includes a single-sensor mode for times when you just want to shoot traditionally without the 360-degree effect.
The CENTR's tape-roll design is meant to allow the filmer to grip the camera through the center without blocking any of the individual sensors. It's also built to work with tripod and GoPro mounts, delivering a versatile filming platform for capturing everyday action.
Inside its housing, the CENTR Camera includes a digital bubble level that helps in leveling filming. It saves footage on 8 GB of internal flash storage and includes microSD expansion. The battery runs for two hours and is designed to be quickly swapped out. Audio is recorded via three built-in microphones. The camera weighs just 9 oz (250 g).
After developing the CENTR for the past three years, the design team has turned to Kickstarter to help it get over the hump to production. It's offering an early bird pledge price of US$299 (est. retail: $399) in an attempt to raise $900,000. If all goes to plan, production is set to begin in February 2015.
The campaign pitch video can be seen below.