With the launch of Google Street View, the folks at Bublcam saw the possibilities with capturing spherical imagery. They set out to make the technology affordable, portable and available for market consumption. Their goal was to provide a portable camera (slightly larger than a baseball) at a reasonable retail price point.
The bublcam camera and software was developed to provide users with the ability to capture spherical photos and videos, experience them and share them on websites, blogs and social networks. It utilizes Wi-Fi to allow live streaming directly to mobile devices. It can also save video and photos to a MicroSD card. Future functionality will allow for saving content to cloud storage providers like Dropbox and Google Drive.
Inside the camera the tetrahedral design allows four, 190º lenses to overlap, capturing everything within a “digital” bubl. The casing consists of four solid aluminum die-cast structural rings that provide a high level of ruggedized support. The tri-axial accelerometer assists in stabilizing images when the camera’s orientation is affected by movement.
The bublcam is capable of recording video at 30fps at 720p or 15fps at 1080p and exports in MP4 format. We’re hoping to see improvement in this area of the specs quickly – hopefully in a firmware upgrade or a quickly released version 2. In this day and age of every action cam delivering 4k video at 30fps and higher, this may be one area that shows weakness for the bublcam. However, since we haven’t see one “in person” yet – we’re withholding judgment for now. The camera records a multiplexed 4-image quad video that can be dynamically blended (bublcam’s stitching process) or converted into an equirectangular.
Photos are captured at full resolution which is 3840 X 3840 as a 14 megapixel multiplexed photo exported as JPEG. This can be blended dynamically or an equirectangular (panoramic) image can be outputted.
The bublcam utilizes four 190º, 1.6 megapixel lenses. The OmniVision sensor captures 5 megapixels and has high quality low-light vision according to bublcam. The sensor also allows the user to set gamma, contrast, gain, brightness and saturation.
Media is saved directly to a MicroSD Card, which can be a maximum of 32GB. The bublcam currently records 1MB per second. The camera can also record via a USB 2.0 connection or record a LIVE stream using VLC.
The internal Wi-Fi unit will allow for LIVE streaming of video to a PC or mobile phone. The bubl app, VLC or Quicktime can be used to view the camera’s multiplex stream. Live stitching capability os slated for a future release.
The bublcam records audio in MP3 format which is encoded directly into the exported MP4 video.
After spending 2 years to develop the bublcam to be market ready, the team is working hard to release a final product to 360-degree hungry video content creators. Initial excitement has been damped by at least a couple slipped delivery dates. As of this writing, the delivery date has gone from “September 2014” to a more vague “Winter 2015” on the company’s product page.
Have a peek at their demo video – there is certainly seems to be lots of promise in this little ball of magic: