February 22, 2012

HomeSide 720° – A helmet mounted panoramic camera

by Andreas Bean

Homeside 720°

Seeing the impressive images of the Elphel-Eyesis 4pi camera I thought it’s time to tell you about the HomeSide 720°. Like the Eyesis its purpose is to capture panorama frames with a framerate of 5fps. The major difference is that the HomeSide 720° is mounted on a helmet. To have an acceptable weight it consists of only two instead of eight Elphel 353 delivering one forth of the resolution the 4pi does. Thus the camera is able to record 30MPix frames before stitching. Additionally it’s reconfigureable to enable HDR panorama frames.

More interesting probably is the purpose it was built for. We created the assembly for indoor virtual tours. After several drawbacks we finally have an approach which works very well. We do auto leveling, auto stabilization and path extraction by image analysis only. Furthermore we recognize crossing points where the user can decide where to go when the tour is shown in the player.

This is not so easy since we neither have GPS nor IMU data. Nevertheless its possible.

All this information goes into our new webplayer which reassembles the images to a virtual tour.

Have a look at the HomeSide 720° Virtual Tour
Click into the player and use the cursor keys to navigate. You may also click and drag to change the point of view.  This tour was recorded with 10MPix i.e. one Elphel 353 with two sensors.

Important: The pi symbols shows a rendered tour, not recorded by the camera

At the moment we are improving the image quality. We are also looking for a partner to drive the development even faster to create stunning indoor virtual tours.


12 responses to “HomeSide 720° – A helmet mounted panoramic camera”

  1. sebastian says:

    This is fantastic!

    Just one thing I don’t understand, you say it contains just two Elphel cameras? The image shows 6.

    Another suggestion after viewing the virtual tour: Disable auto-whitebalance with the Elphel cameras. Make a one time calibration when you set up the camera but then leave it at that setting.

  2. Andreas Bean says:

    Hi Sebastian,

    Thanks a million. Its good to hear positive response about the result of many sleepless nights 🙂

    Actually the virtual tour shown in the link was recorded with a previous type of camera which had only one 353 with two sensors. The tour was taken about 15 month ago.

    Regarding the whitebalance. At the moment we are finishing the new post processing software for the material delivered by the cam shown in the picture above. The input material is recorded in JP46, whitebalance off as you suggest.

    In the post processing we do deblock, debayer, exposure-curve undo, full automatic HDR synthesis independent of the exposure times and finally the white balance on the resulting image completely by HPC with NVidia Cuda.

    These images are then fed into the motion analysis algorithms which do image stabilization, levelization and crossing detection.

    We expect to be ready to post a new blog entry with a new tour in about 4 weeks.

  3. sebastian says:

    I see, looking forward to the new tour, sounds like it will be incredible! 😉

  4. Dimitrios says:

    Wow! this is incredible! the images are completely leveled. I clicked on the little “π” at the lower right of the screen and it looks like a computer rendering.
    Is the Google map path based on a single reference point on the tour path?

  5. sebastian says:

    Wow clicking on the “π” gives a much better example, this is not just “fantastic” that is “FANTASTIQUE”. You should link to this example in the blog post instead of the 15 month old one!

  6. Andreas Bean says:

    @Dimitrios and Sebastian,

    I’m looking forward to achieve that quality with one of the next camera systems. Actually, the pi gives a rendered tour, not recorded by the camera. It was done by our partner http://www.newages.at/

    We have two sensors capable to record that image quality which we want to attach to the FPGA. So if anyone is interested in doing that with us it’s a great opportunity to create an even more extraordinary product.

  7. Andreas Bean says:

    Dimitrios,

    The tour placement is based on a single reference point as you say. We have a web editor to upload and place the groundplan together with the tour path.

  8. Olga says:

    Andreas,
    thank you for the post – it is always exciting to see what our customers do with with the cameras – al the new projects and products evolving. What are your future plans?
    Since this 360 camera is mounted on a helmet, I immediately think about skiing, and taking 360 images of the slopes. We thought of doing that with Eyesis (in a backpak) but the season was over before we had back pack ready last year. May be this year with Eyesis 4Pi, however the season here in Utah is very strange – we had very little snow.

  9. Andreas Bean says:

    Olga,
    At the moment we specialize in indoor virtual tours for business places and real estates. Therefore we currently make the camera production ready.
    In fact I have already thought about going snowboarding with the camera, but due to high workload I had no time for that 🙁
    In Austria we had almost no snow til January. Then we got a lot, but now it’s very warm and the snow melts very fast. The first outdoor tour will be of the city where I’m living, Graz.

    What are you planning with the Eyesis 4Pi for that year?

  10. olga says:

    Hi Andreas,
    yes we have been skiing 3 times this year 🙁 Eyesis4Pi keeps us very involved, and there also was no snow this year.
    We are building first 3 cameras, 2 of which are sold to customers, and the 3rd will travel to SIGGRAPH 2012 together with it’s calibration machine and pattern, where we plan to present Eyesis4Pi and precise pixel-mapping calibration process.

  11. guitianyi says:

    This is fantastic! I am very interest of this device. it is great!

    One question, a panorama is stitched by 2 or more images together as we know, however, we could not stitch them seamless due to the PARALLAX(means planar image is at same planar)

    however, your image is perfect, I want to know how to do it ? thanks a lot!

  12. Andreas Bean says:

    Hi Guitianyi

    We have reduced the distance between the two lenses to a minimum of 16mm and we also do an adaptive calibration during recording.

    Andreas

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