New details have emerged regarding a prototype camera developed by the Computer Graphics Group at Technische University in Berlin that allows the user to throw the ball-shaped device high into the air to obtain a panoramic image of the surrounding area. The ball camera looks promising but an additional round of funding is needed to bring the unit to production.
The outside of the ball is covered by a 1cm thick layer of special protective foam to help absorb shock should you happen to not catch the ball on its way back to earth. Below the foam is a material developed by Shapeways with a PA 2200 printer using SLS (Selective Laser Sintering).
In the center of the ball are the guts of the system, including a lithium-ion battery that powers the cameras and controller board. When the ball is thrown into the air, an accelerometer sends a message to the controller board with calculations based on launch velocity. This tells the controller when the ball will reach its highest point in the trajectory before succumbing to gravity. At this point, the 36 cameras all fire at once, collecting data from the world around it and combining them into a single panoramic shot. The photos can then be transferred to a PC and viewed using a specialized application that allows the user to move freely in the panorama.
The project still needs a few more investor dollars before it can be developed into a production product that users can get their hands on.