Be Here's 360 degree Internet Video

Dateline: 4/26/00

Have you ever watched some video and wanted to know what was just a little bit to the left or right just out of the picture? Be Here, with their iVideo 360 video system lets viewers turn their heads any which way. iVideo's 360 degree streamed video production system is a great step forward for panoramic imaging.

First a quick explanation of what we are talking about. With traditional panoramic imaging, roughly speaking, you put a camera on a tripod and rotate the camera a few degrees, take a picture and repeat. You then wind up with a series of pictures that covers all 360 degrees. These individual pictures are processed by a program usually called a "stitcher" which produces a single image which is of all 360 degrees. The image looks warped as all 360 degree panoramic images do. When viewed by a viewing system such as a QTVR (QuickTime VR) viewer on the computer the image is warped so that the perspective of all the objects looks correct. With this spherical or cylindrical view of a scene you can turn your head anywhere and look at the scene. However nothing in the scene moves, recall that the images were photographed by a still camera on a tripod.

With the iVideo lens NO stitching is necessary. That's because the image produced directly in the lens IS a 360 degree image, no stitching required. Since a 360 degree scene can be produced instantaneously, rather than via a series of photographs, you can replace the still photograph with a video system so the scene can have moving images!

A spherical image and the normalized views.
A spherical image and the normalized views. Courtesy Be Here Inc.

This is very powerful stuff. You can sit and watch a 360-degree video stream just like your average everyday video stream. Or you can put your cursor on the video and move it around causing your view to pan or tilt. You can turn all the way around to see what's "behind" the camera. Of course in this case there is no such thing as in front or behind the camera because all 360 degrees are captured on video tape simultaneously. By the way check out Laura Schneider's Net Conferencing site also on About.com for lots of great info about streaming video. Let's examine how the photographic lens works.

To photograph (video tape) all 360 degrees at the same instant in time imagine the following. Imaging a cone covered with a mirrored surface. If you looked head on the apex of the cone you would see all 360 surrounding the cone simultaneously. Of course the image would be very distorted, but that is easily rectified. Now imagine that a video camera replaces your eye. Now the video camera can tape all 360 degrees at the same time. The image below show's the actual camera housing and reflective area.

Be Here lens
Be Here lens capable of capture 360 degree field of view. Courtesy Be Here Inc.

Now let's look at the client side of the system.

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