At first glance, the bublcam looks kind of like a Poké Ball, but it's actually an impressive HD camera capable of taking completely 360-degree panoramas, live. The spherical little wonder isn't just a fantasy; it works pretty damn well.
The folks from bubl, makers of the eponymous 360-degree camera, recently stopped by Gawker HQ to show us the latest update their little ball of joy. We've seen some panoramic ball-shaped cameras before, a few of which are cool but kind of silly and some of which are kind of ambitious. Bublcam, however, was immediately practical.
The rugged device features four 190-degree lenses that ensure that when you take a 360-degree snapshot, you don't get any blind spots. It shoots video at 1080p and takes 3840p-by-3840p photographs. The aluminum, plastic, and rubber ball is also outfitted with an accelerometer to stabilize. And since it connects to your smartphone or tablet via Wi-Fi, there's no need for buttons, except for one big one that lights up different colors to let you know what the camera is doing. Bublcam also accepts a micro SD card and charges via micro USB.
Bublcam streams the live video back to the device of your choice over the Wi-Fi connection. If you want to stream to a desktop, all you need is a Bublcam player, and you can set up a 360-degree feed so that anybody can watch whatever awesome event you're covering. When we tried out the live stream, the lag was minimal, and the picture was pretty decent.
Here's what its handiwork looks like in still form:
In our brief hands on, we didn't have too much trouble taking nice panoramic shots. Our dark office came out a bit blurry, but bublcam was true to its promise of creating zero blindspots. The app that powers the bublcam isn't quite ready for primetime which lead to a bit of a buggy experience when pulling the images from the cloud, where they're stored, to the device that we wanted to view them on.
Nevertheless, the experience of taking these all encompassing shots was a blast. It seems like this kind of camera would make immediate sense at anything from a professional sports game to a memorable party that you wanted to stream. And since the bublcam is Wi-Fi enabled, streaming is definitely an option.
This thing is sort of expensive, though. Right now, a version of the bublcam that's tailored to the enterprise market is available for $579 with delivery expected this fall, but the company is working on getting a sub-$500 camera to market by next year. They're even working on Oculus Rift integration as well as 3D capabilities. And based on the standardized mounting hardware, it seems perfectly reasonable that you could attach this little guy to a drone for an all-seeing eye-in-the-sky so you can work on being Big Brother and stream the next party you have at your apartment.
Photos by Nick Stango