It's already possible to take aerial shots using your smartphone, but doing so means throwing your expensive piece of kit into the air and hoping you're a good catch. What's really needed is a standalone device that can be launched skywards to capture panoramic views. Enter Squito, a prototype throwable camera ball capable of producing stabilized 360-degree images and video that could prove useful in several different fields.
Squito is the work of Boston-based inventor Steve Hollinger, founder of S. H. Pierce & Co., a manufacturer and licensor of high-technology and consumer products founded in 1989.Hollinger has recently been awarded a second patent related to throwable camera technology. His first was filed in 2010 and referred to "a throwable ball-shaped camera that utilizes position and orientation sensors to capture and process images over the course of its airborne trajectory."
The new patent adds more detail to the first, with a description of how photos can be "captured, re-oriented and stitched into a panorama," and covering "the stabilization of video, making a camera capable of registering frames captured in sequence."
The throwable camera imagined and now prototyped by Hollinger is the size of a tennis ball, and employs three cameras, an inertial measurement unit (IMU), a microcontroller, and an image processor to pull off its impressive feat of capturing images along its airborne trajectories. All images and video are transmitted wirelessly to the user's computer, tablet, or smartphone.
According to Hollinger, possible future uses for the Squito include "recreation, professional sports, architecture, reconnaissance, search-and-rescue, first responder scene assessment, landscape photography, projectile point-of-view, full spherical capture for simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM), and 3D mapping applications."
We've seen a throwable ball camera previously here on Gizmag, with a team of graduates from the Technical University of Berlin having produced a working prototype that contained 36 tiny cameras. While that would take one panoramic photograph at the top of the ball's trajectory, Hollinger's Squito is capable of taking photos continuously throughout the throw.
The video below shows the Squito prototype in action, details some of its capabilities, and suggests ways in which it could be put to good use in the real world. Hollinger is keen to collaborate with others on the development of Squito, with the ultimate goal being to bring it to market.