360 degree cameras What you should know about technology

360 degree cameras What you should know about technology

360 degree cameras What you should know about technology
Angela Merkel is about to speak to journalists when she notices the 360-degree camera.  Source: AP

What kind of device is that?

As the cameraman explained to the Chancellor, the device that is causing so much enthusiasm is a 360-degree camera. Unfortunately, neither the answer nor the video shows which device and which technology the CDU is working with.

How are 360-degree videos created?

Basically there are several options, which differ mainly in the number of their lenses. In the variant with a lens, the lens “looks” upwards, so to speak. There is a mirror there that directs the light rays into the lens. Next to the lens there is another mirror that guides the light, and thus the image, in the direction of the first mirror. This allows the camera to generate a panorama picture of its surroundings, even though it is “looking” upwards

Another possibility is in cameras with two lenses. Two so-called fisheye lenses are used for this. These wide-angle lenses can each cover a field of view of 180 degrees. Together, the images then result in an all-round view. There are also cameras that have even more lenses, each of which then covers a smaller field of view.

Virtual reality glasses

What are the advantages and disadvantages of the different techniques?

For technical reasons, cameras with only one lens cannot produce images and videos with a perfect all-round view. You leave out the area above and below the cameras. With this technology, several images do not have to be combined into one. This is exactly what is needed for cameras with multiple lenses. Depending on the resolution and number of videos, putting them together can require a lot of computing power. In addition, unsightly transitions can occur when putting them together.

What other technology do I need?

Many 360 cameras come with an app for smartphones. This allows you to look at the image that the camera is currently taking. The videos can also be viewed with virtual reality glasses.

How expensive is such a camera?

As is so often the case, this also depends on the requirements the device should meet. For a fancy video from your vacation trip that you can use to impress your friends on Facebook, you don’t have to spend as much money as the PR agency that produces videos for companies. Inexpensive entry-level models start at 190 euros. Expensive models can also cost over 2000 euros.