It’s no longer about simply having eyes in the back of your head, but all around you, thanks to the 360cam from Giroptic, a French company with offices in Lille and San Francisco. As the name implies, this lightweight portable camera is able to record 360º videos in 2048 x 1024 or pictures in 4096 x 2048, and stream them to a smartphone to save and share. Files are also viewable on a PC, YouTube, or in the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset.
Richard Ollier, CEO of Giroptic, explains that the 360cam was the fruit of a long R&D (Research and Development) process, which he describes as “taking things that exist and assemble them to create something that doesn’t exist.” At the core of this alchemy, we find ST’s products, and support.
Seeing Support Is Believing
One of the 360cam’s most obvious features is the three 8-megapixel image sensors (1.4 µm pixel) that surround the device. Using an 185º Fisheye optic, they capture three wide-angle images that the system seamlessly processes in real-time to offer a combined 360º x 300º Field of View.
A little-known fact is that these CMOS sensors are custom-made by ST, and were created specifically for the 360cam. Giroptic is able to acquire dice to include in their device, but also software to fine-tune the sensors. No one else in the industry was able to provide this level of support and performance. As Ollier explains :
“ST has always been there for us. Creating a 360 camera means using sensors in a way they weren’t originally designed for. We were able to work with a lot of people from ST who either developed the component or knew it very well, allowing us to fine-tune our design and reach our goals. That’s support we couldn’t get from anyone else.”
Efficiency and Innovation Today and Tomorrow
The 360cam also uses the STM6719, an ultra-low-voltage supervisor monitoring multiple power supply voltages. It is often used in battery-powered and communication systems. We can also find the ST1S12 and ST1S06, which are DC-DC converters powering low-voltage digital cores. They are great for small enclosed devices thanks to a typical efficiency of more than 90 %. To remain small and interesting to use, the 360cam must excel at power management to ensure its battery lasts as long as possible. ST’s components designed for low-voltage devices make it possible to manufacture a 360º camera that fits in the palm of your hand, something that would have been inconceivable a few years ago.
As Richard Ollier ponders over the future, he thinks that:
“360º imaging is taking over 16:9. VR is a new type of screen, which offers 360º observable scenes, and the industry needs to reinvent capturing, and displaying content. I’m very happy to be at the forefront of this revolution. We [Giroptic] have technologies that big name competitors don’t, which allows us to become a key player in this industry”
As Giroptic is working on its next big project, the company is already in talks with ST to benefit even more from its products and support. From more powerful gyroscopes to even smaller and lower-consumption components, it aims to remain true to its R&D DNA by continuing to create never-seen-before devices using components in ways that were unheard of. And as was the case with the 360cam, ST remains at their side with unrivaled products, knowledge, and support.