Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Donut-shaped CENTR video camera takes 360 degrees worth of footage

By

May 9, 2014

A lot of footage from a little camera

A lot of footage from a little camera

Image Gallery (7 images)

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.

CENTR's in-camera calibration analyzes the images to create seamless panoramas

"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.

Sketch of CENTR mount

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.

When it does, it'll be competing against products like the 360Fly and Geonaute.

The campaign pitch video can be seen below.

Sources: CENTR, Kickstarter

About the Author
C.C. Weiss Upon graduating college with a poli sci degree, Chris toiled in the political world for several years. Realizing he was better off making cynical comments from afar than actually getting involved in all that mess, he turned away from matters of government and news to cover the things that really matter: outdoor recreation, cool cars, technology, wild gadgets and all forms of other toys. He's happily following the wisdom of his father who told him that if you find something you love to do, it won't really be work.   All articles by C.C. Weiss
4 Comments

GOOD INVENTION

Ravi Banerjee
12th May, 2014 @ 05:37 am PDT

I can see this being the starting point for a continuous scene capture system for vehicles and very specifically, bicycles. Whenever I have had an issue with other drivers or when I have been hit there are never any witnesses. A system that captures a 360 degree view every several seconds and that maybe can selectively increase it's frame rate to briefly capture passing traffic would be very useful.

StWils
12th May, 2014 @ 10:57 am PDT

Get an Oculus Rift / stereoscopic VR compatible version ready ASAP.

kalqlate
12th May, 2014 @ 05:45 pm PDT

Ooooooh..I see an application here for aerial photographers like myself! The unit looks small and light enough to mount on a TBS DISCOVERY. I'm in!

Wolfhoundpax
15th May, 2014 @ 06:00 pm PDT
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