A well-shot movie or documentary provides an insightful viewpoint from the creator. But, still, that's just one viewpoint.
New technologies — already coming to mobile devices — provide wraparound views. And you can decide where to look — not only straight ahead but up, down, to either side, and sometimes even backwards.
The simplest version is the $49 Kogeto Dot, which emerged last year from a Kickstarter fundraising campaign. It's a lens attachment for iPhone 4 and iPhone 4s cameras that captures 360-degree video. Using the included app to play back the video, you can swipe your finger to the left or right to see what was shot at any angle. [ Top 10 Gadgets on Inventor Site Kickstarter ]
(Sony previously had a similar attachment for its Bloggie camcorders, but it never really took off.)
Now a new company, Condition One, is bringing wraparound video to live broadcasts, as well as magazines and advertisements. Started by Emmy- and Academy-Award nominated combat photographer Danfung Dennis, the company's tech shows a hemispherical view in front of the camera, essentially everything you could see in the real world if you move your head around. You can pan to the left or right — as if looking from shoulder to shoulder — and also look up and down, but not behind (after all, you don't have eyes in the back of your head).
You can see for yourself if you have an iPad. The company has a free app that shows sample videos. With the app, you can swipe the screen with your finger to see different parts of the videos. Even better, you can move the iPad up and down or side to side, and the video follows. Imagine you are holding an empty picture frame in front of your face. Turn to the side or up and down, and you're framing a different part of the video.
It's especially fun in a clip from a basketball game, for example. You see the view from behind the basket as a player dribbles the ball. Then as he throws, you can look up to see it swoosh through nothing but net overhead. [ NBA 2K13 for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 ]
When can you get more than samples? Condition One is currently testing the tech with NBA teams, the Discovery Channel, and the Thompson-Reuters news agency. And it's working on deals with other broadcasters, magazines and advertisers (imagine being able to look around inside a moving car).
Condition One currently shoots on high-end cameras. But the company uses standard wraparound-view lenses that could also be made for smartphones. Condition One also plans to allow live streaming — so people can see, over the Internet, the video while it's happening. [ For Smartphone Journalists, Resistance From All Sides ]
Imagine being able to look around inside protests, combat situations, or just a friend's wedding that you weren't able to travel to.
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