This week we announced that we will be bringing 360 Panorama to the new BlackBerry 10 platform!
On Tuesday, 360 Panorama Product Manager Candemir Orsan took the stage during the BlackBerry World keynote with Martyn Mallick VP, Global Alliances & Business Development at Research In Motion, for a live demo of 360 Panorama on a BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha test device.
We were able to get a demo build of 360 Panorama for BlackBerry 10 on a very tight deadline – we had less than a month after getting access to a BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha test device to prepare a working demo for BlackBerry World. Our engineering team worked at full sprint (Mobile Engineer Danny Pier in particular) to pull this off, and we were extremely pleased with the high caliber BlackBerry 10 developer tools – they worked right out of the box.
Meeting this deadline was due not only to the diligence of our engineering team (Mobile Engineer Danny Pier in particular), but also the caliber of the BlackBerry 10 developer tools. We found the BlackBerry 10 development toolkit to be outstanding. With everything contained within a single environment, the tools essentially worked out of the box. There is no way our ambitious timeline would have been possible without the tools being at such a high caliber.
A few highlights from the last few weeks:
Danny was able to first get frames to appear on the test device while working from the backseat of Candemir’s wagon, on the return from a company retreat.
Soon to follow was display of the grid.
It wasn’t long before we had a functional demo of the app, just in time to confirm that Candemir would be onstage for a demo as part of the keynote presentation at BlackBerry World.
We’re excited to bring 360 Panorama to a new audience of users on the BlackBerry 10 platform. Welcome BlackBerry users! We can’t wait to see what you capture with 360 Panorama.
Last week, the Occipital team packed their bags and gathered in the Rocky Mountains for 3 days of planning, team-building, and fun. All the event details were kept under wraps to the team, who spent the week leading up to the retreat filled with inquisitions about what we were to be doing and some pretty harebrained ideas of what was in store for the team (Trust falls? Man vs. Wild style challenges? Hunger Games?).
We chose to head to Steamboat Springs, staying in an incredible place. While Steamboat may primarily be known as a ski destination, we found plenty of awesome things to do even without the powder.
3 days away went quick, as we enjoyed time with each other, hiking, a pizza cooking lesson (where we perfected our pizza crust toss), a trip to Strawberry Hill hot springs, hot tubbing, pool, shuffleboard, basketball, and yes, plenty of reflecting on the highlights of the year past and planning for the next big thing.
To the highlight reel:
If 360 Panorama sounds a little different these days, it’s probably because it has recently become multi-lingual. As part of version 4.1, 360 Panorama is now fluent in deutsch, thanks to our intern Marian Gläser.
A student at the University of Applied Science of Berlin (Hochschule für Natur und Technik) studying International Media and Computing, Marian was seeking an internship that would meld his interest in computer vision and iOS development, and put him back in the US (having spent a year in Indiana previously as an exchange student). Since joining us, he has spent time in our Boulder and San Francisco offices, proving himself to be truly multi-talented. He’s filled in on projects acting as Director of Cinematography, Backend Engineer, Frontend Engineer, and yes, lead German translator.
Marian’s enthusiasm for bringing the app to Germany convinced us to give localization a try sooner rather than later, and the initial reaction has been positive. Since the update 360 Panorama made it all the way to the #1 Photo & Video app in the German App Store, to which we say,
Herzlich Willkommen Freunde aus Deutschland!
Marian is quite pleased with the outcome as well, saying, “I did it with a lot of passion and with love for details, which has been met with incredible feedback of my fellow countrymen. I feel honored to have brought 360 Panorama to Deutschland!”
Marian arrived in December, and will be spending one more month with us before he heads home to work on his thesis (on Computer Vision connected to Social Media) to complete his Bachelor Degree. Post-graduation, Marian plans to pursue further studies in Computing and Business.
We’ve truly enjoyed having Marian and his talents as a part of the Occipital team for the past 5 months and will be sad to see him go in May. But rest assured, Marian will leave a legacy behind at Occipital, as the first to share 360 Panorama in a different tongue. Glückwunsch Marian! We’ll miss you!
Think you’re the next great Occipital intern? Connect with us at jobs [@] occipital.com.
We just released a brand new and awesome version of 360 Panorama in the App Store today. Everyone on the team put in a lot of hard work into version 4.1. We are very excited to get it in your hands.
This version has a great collection of new features and support for the new iPad’s amazing Retina display.
The app is a living and breathing organism for us. We are constantly using it every day, thinking about how we can improve it, and discussing our ideas. And believe me, we have no shortage of those.
We carefully pick and choose what the next update will include by thinking about how we can make the app more magical, simpler, and easier to use.
To quote @chamillionare: “Making everything simple is actually complicated most of the time…”
Most importantly we listen to what our customers have to say. We have a great community of users that actively keep in touch and send us valuable feedback.
With version 4.1 we are introducing the in-app panorama list. You can now quickly browse and view your panoramas with clear thumbnails instead of searching for them in your camera roll.
We also display dates for your panoramas and show which ones you’ve uploaded. It will be much easier to take a bunch of panoramas and upload them for sharing, enhancement, and safe keeping when you get back home to fast internet.
Once you capture a panorama, 360 will automatically save it to your list so you don’t have to worry about tapping the ‘Save’ button. In fact, the ‘Save’ button is now gone! Wait a minute! What if you want to save panoramas to your photo library? Easy. Tap the new ‘Camera Roll’ button in the ‘Share’ menu and 360 will export your panorama for you.
Finally, there’s the beautiful full-screen viewing mode: While you are viewing a panorama, tap the screen to hide the menu bar and the other buttons and get an immersive display of the scenery. Don’t forget to tap the ‘Gyro’ button for further awesomeness.
Make sure to check out the full-screen viewing especially on your iPad. It’s the next best thing to being there. I promise you will be impressed.
Oh, and there is one more thing. 360 Panorama now speaks Deutsch in the German store.
Willkommen bei 360 Panorama.
While Meryl Streep is still celebrating her big win at last night’s 84th annual Academy Awards, we’re happy to report we’re sporting a little Oscar glow this morning too.
While we may not have had an official invite (or been anywhere near LA for that matter) 360 Panorama got a backstage pass to the awards… through the eyes of @TheAcademy.
We’re flattered that The Academy chose to use 360 Panorama to give fans a backstage peak at what it’s like to be a part of the Oscars. Here are our top 3 favorites, but be sure to check out all of The Academy’s backstage panoramas. Click on any of them for the immersive 360 view.
And for the record, we’d like to take this opportunity to thank The Academy, Alan Turing, Claude Shannon, Steve Jobs and our Moms for making this all possible.
We’re excited to be joining 13 other TechStars companies on the first night of SXSW to kick things off right: By celebrating startups and entrepreneurship!
Headed to Austin for SXSW? We’d love to have you as our guest! Come meet our team, mingle with other TechStars companies and friends, and grab a few drinks on us.
The fun kicks off Friday night, March 9th at Cedar Street Courtyard at 8pm.
RSVP now to save your spot!
As 2011 comes to a close, there are a few panoramas from the year we can’t seem to forget. Here, in no particular order, are 10 panoramas we’ll remember from 2011.
Click flat images to be taken to the 360 view!
Boat run ashore in Maharashtra, India
From Aneesh Bhasin
Turquoise lake in Alberta, Canada
From Tom Pace
Mountaintop in Lucerne, Switzerland
From Scott Larson
Field in Franklin, Wisconsin
From Bob Solem
From Craige Mazur
Red Sands in Jordan
From Elies Campo
Hong Kong at night
From Saranya Siripuekpong
From Ever G
From Vikas Reddy
Beach at Kaui, Hawaii
We hope you’re enjoying the holiday season with friends, family, and fun. Here at Occipital, we’ve been getting in the mood for weeks as you’ve been uploading holiday panoramas. In fact, we’ve been enjoying it so much, we thought it might be fun to share a collection of our favorite holiday light panoramas from around the globe. Enjoy!
Click flat images to be taken to the 360 view!
Seattle, Washington USA
Disney World in Orlando, Florida USA
Islington, United Kingdom
Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Canterbury, New Zealand
Happy Holidays to you and yours from the Occipital team!
The mobile landscape and Apple’s iOS are evolving at the speed of light.
One of the best ways to keep up with this ever changing ecosystem is the VTM iOS Developer Conference where you can attend talks by domain experts and meet many fellow developers. It’s a great way to keep your skills sharp and find inspiration.
A couple of us attended the conference over the last weekend in Boston (Nov 12-13). We enjoyed listening to an interesting variety of both technical and philosophical discussions about new features in iOS5, development strategies, and the future of mobile.
This year marked Jeff’s third time speaking at a VTM conference. He gave a talk about how to enrich the user experience of mobile apps by not limiting it to the two dimensional interface of the touchscreen. Jeff discussed how to use the many sensors available on smartphones (e.g. gyroscope, accelerometer, compass, etc.) as complimentary inputs.
Staying true to the premise of his talk, Jeff built a sample app for the audience step-by-step with a brand new UI for “time travel”. His app set the “time” by physically moving the device just like the arms of an analog clock. (check out his slides here)
Another highlight for me was the closing address, “Beyond the Gold Rush”, by Brent Simmons. He talked about the past, present, and future of mobile. Brent predicted that the next 5 years will be even more magical and revolutionary.
He challenged the audience to realize this future by “solving the hard problems” because the mainstream users have now embraced mobile devices and are ready to go way beyond the fart and flashlight apps.
We accept the challenge. Let’s get to it!
Overall the VTM conference was a great way to spend a beautiful New England weekend with comrades.
Tom Pace takes incredible panoramas.
It’s not a stretch to say that Tom has taken some of the most amazing panoramas we’ve seen and we’ve enjoyed sharing several of his panoramas from the @360Panorama Twitter account, as well as feature a few in Noteworthy on the 360VERSE page. Last week, at the prompt of a comment from another 360 Panorama user, Tom crafted a blog post to share his secrets for how he creates such memorable panoramas.
Best Techniques for 360 Panorama
Getting a satisfying 360-degree photo is easy, but to add that little extra bit of quality, I’ve come up with a handful of techniques that can be used to improve the finished result.
The following are the most important techniques to solve the most significant problems I found occurring in most panoramas:
- Achieving the best camera exposure levels in the first shot
- Moving so the images blend together properly, primarily to fix broken horizons
1. Get The Best Exposure
Determining the best exposure can be a bit of a guess, but the best way to get it is aiming the camera toward the brightest point in the 360 environment for light or average environments … obviously the sun, if you’re outside, or some light wall inside, etc. In a darker environment, aim the camera at the darkest place so it compensates and the rest of the 360 view is easier to see, not all black. And then, start capturing, and quickly spin around and find any places in the environment that you really like and want to see in the panorama, and if they appear way too dark or too light, then you might want to restart, and aim the camera a bit off from whatever you aimed at initially. Then you can either assume the camera has a good initial exposure and continue to make the panorama or you can do a quick spot check again. I usually do one single test and then do the panorama.. Although, I would have done a third on Lake Louise if I had the time (I was annoying family members who were also in the canoe, requesting them to spin the boat around! haha..)
Here are two pairs of panoramas with separate light/dark versions, Lake Louise and Grotto Mountain Pond:
Lake Louise light (the water texture is much more detailed than the dark version, but the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is farther and harder to see here… the dark one is closer)
First I aimed at the sun, so the sky was darker and all the clouds were detailed, but the mountains turned totally black.
Then tried lighter a bit, once or twice, until I liked the balance between bright sky clouds and the dark mountains. This was used by Occipital in the 360verse, and a viewer commented on it which inspired me to write this blog post.
2. Preventing Broken Horizons
Watch the grid when starting and try to capture the horizon in your first image, rather than a total sky image or total ground image. Then slowly angle the device up and down to get the sky and ground for this initial horizon image, then return to the horizon and start slowly turning around in a circle. Try have the new new image overlap the captured images as much as possible. Spinning your body at a slower speed helps.
This action will greatly reduce the chance of a broken horizon. It’s much more tricky to get the horizon at the end of the 360 spin to be unbroken. I think it’s a bit of luck, but it’s also about keeping the iPhone as still as possible while spinning.
Start spinning slowly again, capturing the sky and ground in the same manner. I haven’t determined if it makes a difference to capture only the sky in a spin and the ground in a separate spin, or if the second spin can capture both sky and ground by angling up and down as you spin the second time around.
Quick Bonus Tips!
- Keep the iPhone as close to you as possible, right in front of your face. Holding it at arms length can confuse it for certain near-by objects. This tip came directly from Occipital after I finally asked for help in late February 2011.
- Also don’t lower it down to your chest or waist when capturing the ground, and don’t stick it way up above your head when capturing the sky. Only rotate it up and down, right in front of your face, and spin your body to get the side images.
Now I’ve created almost 30 panoramas, some uploaded and public, and feel great confidence in the app, and my own improved use of it. I hope this info can help you get even more enjoyment from the app.
A brief bio from Tom Pace:
I am a technology consultant. My experience was originally in desktop web apps, but my focus has changed to prioritize the user experience and development on mobile devices in recent years. I have completed projects and have more in development on iOS, and Android, for myself and clients around North America and the Caribbean.
Working independently for several years, I enjoy the experience of entrepreneurship. Being independent demands me to keep a strict focus on growth, being proactive, keeping a constant positive attitude, and often thinking outside the box.
I have an insatiable desire to explore the bleeding-edge boundaries of technology, and to explore the wide and wonderful natural world. Being out in the natural world is one of the best sources of creativity and inspiration.
You can see more of Tom’s panoramas on his public profile.