Canada's Tamaggo Inc. previewed an egg-shaped photographic device at this year's CES that's claimed to capture navigable high resolution 360-degree panoramas of its surroundings with a single click. Rather than stitch together lots of different photos taken one after the other in quick succession, the Tamaggo 360-Imager would appear to do for photography what lens attachments like the GoPano micro did for iPhone video. I say appear to do because the device on show in Las Vegas was a non-functioning prototype, so we've yet to see what the technology can actually do.
Taking instant photos with a Polaroid camera became so popular when I was growing up that the company's name became part of the language. No doubt Tamaggo's CEO James Ionson (a former senior executive at the Polaroid Corporation) is hoping for a similar wave of excitement to take hold when the company's new instant photo technology hits the marketplace in Q2 2012. So much so that he's also coined a phrase for what the new Tamaggo 360-Imager can do - he calls it Tamaggraphy.
The palm-sized (3.62 x 2.19 x 2.4-inch, 92 x 55.8 x 61.1 mm) 2012 CES Innovations Design and Engineering Awards honoree is topped by a 360-degree zero to infinity lens and features a 14 megapixel sensor. There's a 2-inch LCD touch screen on the bottom and a huge button on the side for thumb operation (although it also has its own stand for delayed triggering using a timer function). The 360-Imager is powered by a Lithium Polymer battery that's charged via a mini-USB port - which also caters for physical connection to a computer, tablet or smartphone - and has built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities.
The company says that its device is able to determine whether it's being held for 360 degree sky or ground shots or for horizontal or vertical panoramas. Once the shutter has been released, the 360-Imager's ImmerVision Enables panamorph technology freeze-frames everything seen through the lens. The captured Tamaggraph image can then be saved to and viewed on a digital device (such as a tablet) or shared online via social networking platforms, with users able to move around the scene in a similar way to those nifty virtual museum tours often seen online. A section of the image can also be cropped and sent to a printer.
The Tamaggo 360-Imager is expected to cost under US$200.