360º Bublcam camera a hit on Kickstarter
Panorama can be live-streamed on web, video
Toronto startup Bubl has spent the last two years developing the Bublcam, a 360-degree camera that captures stills and video and is WiFi equipped, allowing to real-time streaming.
Last week it launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for production and blew past its $100,000 goal in just 13 hours. It now has raised more than $203,000 on the crowdfunding site.
Among the supporters are 25 people who pledged more than $1,000 each to the project,
Bubl COO Greg Ponesse said the Bublcam is aiming for the consumer market. To be priced at about $700, it could be available by May of 2014.
“I really think people are going to want to buy the Bublcam just because of its ability to shoot in many different directions,” he said.
He foresees its use in surveillance, but also in capturing action sports, teleconferencing, concert footage and a child’s first day of school.
Bubl founder Sean Ramsay says he believes security uses will be the quickest route to market for the product.
"Put the camera up in your home wherever you want it and look at the footage from your iPhone," said Ramsaey in an interview with CBC's Lang & O'Leary Exchange on Monday.
Ramsay and his partner Dan Mills have spent two years developing the Bublcam, which, unlike other 360-degree cameras, has no blind spot.
"A lot of the challenges revolved around calibrating the actual lenses. We have four lenses that overlap each other – in order to make them work and see everything so there were no blind spots," Ramsay said.
Bubl also developed software that allows the user to see the images as an all-round panorama and control what they see by panning and scrolling. It’s usable on a PC, mobile device or the web.
Four founding partners bootstrapped the initial stages of development, then launched a campaign on Nov. 5 on Kickstarter to raise money for production. The campaign will run until Dec. 14.
Ramsay said he is delighted with the Kickstarter response.
"We understood that people really liked this. At the same time – how much did they like it? Was there really a market? And they just spoke. This was the best way for us to get the information and get the responses that we needed," he said.
He acknowledges the technology has to stay ahead of knock-offs but said Bubl’s patents will help them forge relationships with key partners.
"We thought the consumer market would be quick to adopt this. People really like to see great moments. Before we could see what was in front of the camera. Now we can see what’s behind the camera, too," he added.
Ricoh unveiled its Theta digital camera for cellphone, which can take 360-degree panoramas with its two ultra-wide-angle lenses, last month.