Panoramic and 360 degree imaging capabilities have been available to photographers for years through DSLR manual mode captures and smartphone apps. The Panono offers something a little different. It's a throwable ball camera, armed with 36 tiny lenses, that's capable of capturing a 72 megapixel spherical scene from an elevated position. The developers are now pinning production hopes on a successful Indiegogo funding campaign.

Created by Jonas Pfeil and team, Panono’s multi-lensed ball looks more like a Jedi training ball or paintball grenade than a camera. Initially developed in 2011 as a large green prototype, the latest iteration is significantly smaller.

Specifications for the Panono show it to have a diameter of 4.33 in (around 11 cm), with a weight of 0.66 lb (300 g). The body of the ball is made of clear plastic, which the designers claim is water-resistant, and is tough enough to survive being dropped a few times.

Panono’s ball camera, armed with 36 tiny lenses, is capable of capturing a 72 megapixel panoramic scene from an elevated position. How the device captures the overhead image is what makes the Panono stand out from other throwable cameras, like the Squito for example. An integrated accelerometer is programmed to fire all 36 fixed focus cameras at the apex of the throw, or when the ball starts to decelerate, providing a 360 degree view from on high. Spherical images can then be viewed in an app running on a tablet or smartphone by moving the device around.

The designers are quick to point out that the ball needs to be remain relatively flat in its throwing arc, too much rotation and the cameras won’t fire. In such cases, the Panono can just be launched skyward again.

The Panono can also be used as a hand-held device by pressing a button or by mounting it on a pole. The developers claim that low light shots are possible when the ball is pole-mounted or stabilized in the hand-held position.

Panono is currently seeking US$900,000 in crowdfunding to produce a $549 version of its throwable camera. The Indiegogo campaign closes on January 4 2014.

Sources: Panono, Indiegogo