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.
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.
Over the last year, what we’ve launched publicly is 360 Panorama – a popular app which lets you capture panoramas in seconds and share them as interactive 360 views. But what you might not know is that 360 Panorama is just the tip of the iceberg.
Your smartphone’s computational reach into its surroundings ends at its touchscreen surface. To your device, the real world isn’t a canvas of interactivity. Instead, it’s little more than a grid of pixels that might as well be random. We’re changing that. We’re using computer vision to make real world environments computationally interactive and fun, thereby extending the computational reach of your device into the visual space around you.
This concept is bigger than Occipital can handle alone, so we’re launching a platform that other developers can leverage. We’ll take care of the computer vision, allowing developers to focus on creating new experiences.
We’ve known Jason and Brad since 2008 when we joined TechStars. We’ve experienced first-hand their open and engaged approach to helping entrepreneurs. Jason, Brad, and the whole Foundry team, are awesome, and as part of their HCI theme, they share our belief that computer vision will fundamentally change the way we interact with our surroundings.
Dr. Manu Kumar is a successful entrepreneur, founder of K9 Ventures, and has a PhD from Stanford in eye-tracking HCI. We can’t overstate how helpful he has been since we met him three years ago. It’s about time we figured out how to work together officially.
Dr. Gary Bradski is the creator of OpenCV – a computer vision library used by thousands of computer vision researchers and engineers around the world. These days he’s Senior Scientist at Willow Garage where he works on advancing the state of robot vision. Gary agrees that we’re on the cusp of something huge in mobile computer vision and he significantly expands the technical gravity of our board of directors.
Welcome, everyone, to the Occipital team.
It’s going to be a wild ride – and where we’re going, we don’t need roads.
Today we released a great new update to 360 Panorama with lots of exciting improvements. But that’s not all we’ve been working on. Along with the update, we’re rolling out our first big cloud-based panorama enhancement, and I wanted to take a minute to show you some before and after results. I think you’ll agree that panoramas are getting much more beautiful, and this is just the beginning.
Improvement 1: Smoother
The first improvement is in the smoothness of panoramas. Check out how the colorful blue sky is made much smoother after today’s update.
Improvement 2: More full
We’ve filled in more areas in your flat images. Check out the top and bottom regions of this panorama of St Peter’s Basilica captured yesterday.
Improvement 3: 2x resolution downloads
All panoramas uploaded with the Premium feature can now be downloaded in 2X resolution! Unlock more megapixels within your panoramas. Didn’t use the premium feature when you uploaded? No problem, you can convert Free uploads to Premium at any time.
How does this work?
When you tap Upload in 360 Panorama, your panorama is packaged and sent to your Occipital account as a rich collection of raw image data. What this means is that your panorama isn’t set in stone, it can improve over time as our algorithms improve (like today). Behind the scenes, we’re using massively-powerful GPU servers, having them perform billions of calculations to generate and improve your panoramas.
Best of all, this is all automatic and you don’t need to learn anything new. Just upload your panoramas and the enhancements will kick in. If you used the premium upload feature, your panoramas will be enhanced today. Free panorama enhancement is soon to follow.
Just before Christmas in 2010, Jeff and I were discussing Occipital’s plans for the next year. We had launched 360 Panorama 3.0 in early December, and it was a major success – we got to the #3 spot in the App Store and we were getting lots of really amazing 360 views uploaded every day. We decided was that we really needed a place for people to see these 360 views and we needed someone to help us build it. We split ways to get ready for Christmas, and then an hour later I got this message from Jeff:
Some dude named Mick launched the gallery for us:
i really hope @occipital makes a gallery of all their public panos
and decided why wait?
Of course we followed up with him immediately to discuss working together, and soon he left Santa Monica and joined us in Boulder on a contract basis.
Over the past few months we’ve been impressed with Mick’s web wizardry, and today we’re excited to announce that he has officially joined Occipital as part of our core team!
You’ll be able to see what he’s been working for the past few months really soon, but just in his spare time he:
- Got asked by O’Reilly media to write a book about CouchDB and Node.js.
- Won a free pass to Google IO by winning this contest by building a walking tour of San Francisco in a couple of hours overnight.
- Found time to model for Mick’s Shirts.
As for his dedication, we’ve got panoramic proof:
We’re proud to have Mick Thompson on the Occipital team, and can’t wait to show you the awesome work he’s been doing!
Next month a couple of us are headed to the VTM iPhone Developers Conference in Seattle! (April 9-10) It should be a great conference covering the latest trends, and with Erica Sadun as the technical chair, the conference won’t shy away from getting technical.
I’m on the speaker roster for the second time at a VTM conference. Last fall, I spoke about CoreMotion and AR (see my slides here). This time, I’ll be talking about Computer Vision and Augmented Reality. I will cover how pervasive cameras are becoming (now on the iPad!), and how they really aren’t just about photos and video anymore. Just like how phones are less and less about phone calls, and more about powerful apps, cameras are slowly becoming less and less about snapshots and more about interacting with reality. I talked about this a little over a year ago on an O’Reilly Where 2.0 talk, so it will be fun to see how far we’ve come and how far we still have to go before we all have Iron Man vision in our smartphones and tablets.
In addition to talking about trends and hopefully inspiring some ideas for the future, I’ll share some code that is applicable when dealing with the camera which will be useful in augmented reality apps and any kind of realtime video processing. I’ll cover some important aspects of using AVFoundation and OpenGL.
If you’re not registered for the conference, there’s still time to sign up, and you can get a $150 off by using the special code SEAMAL6. (That’s like getting the earlybird discount even though you’re clearly a latebird!)
PS: We’re hiring top notch iPhone/iPad engineers. Get in touch if you’re interested, or say hello at the conference if you’re attending.
If you have the latest iPhone OS (4.2+) and an iPhone 4 or iPod touch 4th gen, check out the new gyro-enabled panorama viewing we just launched!
Quick update: We always get a little annoyed when technical terms are misused, so we’re the first to admit that this new feature isn’t really Augmented Reality [also pointed out by Gizmodo, DownloadSquad], but we thought AR evoked the type of controls we’ve enabled, so we titled this post accordingly. But to be accurate, it’s true 3DOF gyroscope navigation of a simulated camera view — and it’s pretty cool! And if you want to see some actual AR work we’ve done, check this out.
- Live now for every panorama uploaded so far.
- Requires iOS 4.2+
- Allows you to physically spin around as if you were actually at the scene of the panorama.
- Doesn’t currently auto-align with compass North, but you can use touch controls to orient with north.
Let us know what you think and how we can improve it!
Since the sale of RedLaser to eBay, people have been asking what’s next for Occipital. While RedLaser has been in the limelight, the team has been hard at work on our next-generation computer vision application.
Today we’ve launched 360 Panorama (app store: $2.99): realtime panorama creation for your iPhone 4 or 3GS. Gone is the need to stitch together a series of still photographs. With 360, simply pan your phone in any direction and watch as our computer vision system builds a panorama in realtime. Capturing a panorama on your phone has never been easier.
360 Panorama is our first major release since RedLaser, and we’ve surmounted many challenges to make it happen. We’re proud to say there’s simply no other app like it.
Here’s a short video preview of 360 Panorama in action:
Video updated 12/14/10 to feature v 3.0!
Tech Note: The first release of 360 Panorama is optimized to make panorama capture extremely fast and easy so that you can share panoramas very rapidly. As we improve the precision of generated panoramas, we’ll also add options for higher resolution outputs. Current resolution of a 360 degree panorama is
2048 4096 pixels wide (which is still wider than most monitors).
Occipital has grown up a little bit since August 2009. We had survived 2009 by running on fumes and building a shiny stage-1 rocket booster called RedLaser. Back then, we were happy that RedLaser had been installed on 95,000 iPhones. RedLaser has now been installed on over 2 million iPhones. The growth was pure word-of-mouth (see the Newsweek article about it written by Vikas from November 27 2009.) And as we recently reflected with UX Magazine, we learned that user experience was tantamount to success.
2010. We spent the early months of 2010 supercharging RedLaser. We added data feeds, local results, new barcode formats, and we licensed RedLaser’s technology to 70 companies including Target. Apple featured RedLaser in a TV ad which premiered at primetime during Lost, scanning a bright red Gaggia Espresso Machine.
It was around this time that we realized RedLaser had outgrown our basement office. Occipital is fundamentally a computer vision technology company, but we had transitioned to spend most of our time fueling a large-scale mobile commerce tool. We started laying the groundwork to scale RedLaser up and away from our core engineering focus, and it was around that same time that we started kicking around ideas with a little company called eBay that just happened to specialize in large-scale mobile commerce tools, which brings us to today’s announcement.
Today we’re announcing that RedLaser has been acquired by eBay, Inc. We are confident that eBay is a truly better home for RedLaser than Occipital. Not only will RedLaser continue to thrive (now free for the first time on the App Store), but we’re also excited to report that the RedLaser SDK and all of the companies it supports will continue and expand under eBay. If you’re wondering, Occipital remains a freestanding company and we will not be moving over to eBay. eBay has an entirely new team running RedLaser.
Tomorrow. We’re really just getting started. Remember, we were just on the crawler with our partially-completed rocket. We no longer have our stage-1 rocket booster, but we have something even better in the works – a stellar engineering team:
Robert Grant, a Computer Science master’s alumnus from the University of Michigan, joined the team on February 18 as Occipital’s first Computer Vision Engineer. Since then, Rob has been leading development for Occipital’s next major release, which begins our steps down the path of creating a human-computer interface that blends seamlessly with human vision, which will be Occipital’s primary focus for the foreseeable future.
Rémi Chaignon, currently working in Paris, is starting remotely in July as our first Augmented Vision Engineer until he will join the company in Boulder this October. Rémi worked at the University of Teeside on the fundamentals of an Augmented Reality Game engine dubbed GEAR.
Shaun Werkhoven, the most recent to accept our invitation to join the team, has a PhD in Computer Vision from the University of Newcastle. Shaun, who currently resides in Sydney until his trip to Boulder next month, deeply studied Interest Points as applied to object recognition and 3D reconstruction for his thesis. Shaun will play a crucial role, applying his research knowledge to more optimally help us solve problems as a Computer Vision Engineer.
Without a doubt, this is the most exhilarating time in company history. We’re looking forward to the formal launch of Occipital now that we’re refocused on what we do best as a company – computer vision, and we can’t wait to watch as eBay accelerates and improves RedLaser with a new dedicated team.
If you haven’t already downloaded RedLaser – it’s free today.
I love photography. And I like the fact that I can take digital photos on a device that fits in my pocket and is always with me. However, I hate the fact that many of the pictures I take come out blurry just because there is a little motion in the scene or because I didn’t have the camera perfectly still for the shot.
I’m tired of guessing when everyone is standing still enough to get a good picture. I’m tired of working so hard to keep the camera still when I take a picture. Most importantly I’m tired of missing the truly special moments just because I can’t get the camera to stay still at the same time as everyone in the scene. There has to be a better way!
When I found what appeared to be the solution I was estatic: ClearCam‘s quickshot mode. A camera that took several shots and then just kept the best one – the one where the camera was still AND motion in the scene was minimal. Brilliant!
Then disappointment set in when I realized it wasn’t in a condition to be released through the App Store. So a long story short, I called up Jeff and Vikas and said what’s up with that? Don’t you realize what you’ve developed is the perfect solution to this problem? Of course they knew that but were way too busy with the success of RedLaser to put energy into it. Kudos for that, but seriously I was missing way too many moments with this mobile camera that had everything going for it but the ability to reliably capture moments.
With no where else to turn, I reluctantly dusted off my Xcode development environment, formed a partnership with Occipital and off we went. In the process we have taken ClearCam’s quickshot mode to the next level by virtually eliminating time required between shots (just in case there’s more than one moment to capture, or you’re just not sure which moment you will need to capture).
And finally, for the first time ever, I find myself trusting my iPhone camera. Seriously trusting it. For me, it has become one of the only apps I use on a daily basis. I hope it changes mobile photography for others as much as it has for me. It’s been fun guys, thanks.
Now if only there were an app that would help me improve those once in a lifetime shots I keep coming across without my DSLR. There has to be a better way…