If you've ever wanted to take an in-the-air panoramic photo - say, in the middle of a bustling town square or out in the wild spaces of nature - but haven't had the equipment, your worries now are over, thanks to a nifty little ball embedded with a set of cameras, making it able to take 360 degree panoramas while in mid air. And there's not a button in sight.
The device appears to have been made as part of a Diploma thesis by Jonas Pfeil, a former student at the Technical University of Berlin who also has spent time at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. The project has its origins in 2010, although the project only seems to have been shown off on Pfeil's website recently.
The ball houses 36 two-megapixel cameras, which all take part of the panorama automatically once the ball reaches the apex of the throw (we assume that there is some sort of accelerometer in the ball that can detect when the ball's vertical motion reaches zero as gravity and upwards force balance out)
The ball then automatically stitches together the photo, to be viewed on Pfeil's own photo viewing software. Files are transferred from the ball to your PC via USB.
We like the look of this device a lot. Sure, there's probably quite a lot of novelty factor in this, but it appears to be really well planned and executed, with all of the finnicky photoshopping and planning taken out of the equation entirely. Plus, throwing and catching a ball is something most of us learnt was fun when we were kids.
What we'd REALLY like to see is this kind of technology used in things like soccer or basket balls. While there'd obviously be problems to do with avoid damage to the cameras and retaining the correct weight of the balls, it would take sports photography to new levels.
The Panoramic Ball Camera is patent pending, and will be shown off to the public some more at the SIGGRAPH Exhibition in Hong Kong in December.