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Video Take Hands-Free 360 Degree Panoramic Photos With an iPhone (Video) 109

In a way, this app is nothing but a cute gimmick. There are many apps that allow you to make panoramic photos on an iPhone, not to mention the panorama feature built into iOS6 -- and plenty for Android, too. But Cycloramic makes your iPhone spin around while standing on edge (on a smooth surface), which is a fine stunt and a great party trick. And it's endorsed by Steve Wozniak, which is a boast few iPhone apps can make. He calls it "Unexpected, fanciful, and useful all at the same time!" Even if it had no practical value whatsoever, you might want to blow 99 cents on Cyclorama just to watch your phone make you dizzy. Most Android phones won't stand on edge. (Tim's won't and neither will mine.) So an Android version would require a stand. Or at least a pattern so we could make our own stands out of cardboard or sheet plastic. But that's a "maybe," and apparently not likely to come along soon. For the moment we'll just have to envy iPhone owners as their phones magically spin around, taking photos now and then as they turn.

Bruno: I’m Bruno Francois. I live in Atlanta, but I’m from Corsica, France.

Tim:: What’re you doing at South by Southwest?

Bruno: Just checking out the other start-ups.

Tim:: Oh that’s right, you’re not just checking stuff out?

Bruno: Yeah, I’m checking.

Tim:: What are you showing off?

Bruno: And I want to show off my app as well, that’s called Cycloramic.

Tim:: Okay, all right. What does Cycloramic do?

Bruno: Cycloramic is the only app that does hands-free panoramic picture with the phone, so the phone turns by itself without touching it and does a panoramic picture or video.

Tim:: What allows you to do that? How do you that hands-free?

Bruno: Well, we use vibration, we use the vibrator of the phone, but the trick is to use it at the right frequency to be able to work on different surfaces. So, actually when we developed the app, we made the first app which was just about frequency where we could test all the frequency of different surfaces. We picked the right one. And then later on we improved it where the phone know when it’s turning and it will adjust the speed and the vibration based on when it gets a shutter snap 0:57.

Tim:: Now, the phone itself, you can make it move pretty quickly?

Bruno: Yeah, you’ve different speeds. So, it moves the best on glass, but if you do a video it’s too fast; but if we do a quick panoramic, you can do it in like 10, 15 seconds.

Tim:: But it will actually move well enough even on surfaces that aren’t very uniform like wood?

Bruno: Wood has to be polished like typical desk or laminated wood, office desk, but if you have like that rough wood or if it’s painted, anything that’s sticky, like Plexiglass won’t work because it’s sticky, so you got to test it.

Tim:: How did you come up with this idea?

Bruno: We just wanted to do something that was not done before. It was not about selling it, it was just to do something that was not done. So, we tried to come up with different ideas and every time we came up with something, it was already done. So, I look at the phone more as an object and say, okay, what can it do? Can it move? And when we saw it move, then we said, okay, it’s doing 360 pictures.

Tim:: This app is available now right?

Bruno: Yeah. It’s on the app store.

Tim:: What’s the cost?

Bruno: Cycloramic.

Tim:: What’s the cost?

Bruno: $0.99.

Tim:: $0.99, yeah. And what kind of attention have you gotten with it?

Bruno: When we launched, we didn’t have website, we didn’t have – we didn’t plan, we just had a video, because we got rejected by Apple first, they thought it was kind of a scam because it was moving.

Tim:: Oh, okay. They didn’t believe that it would work?

Bruno: Well, because we say, the phone magically turns and it they don’t like; magic is kind of misleading, so we did a video and we posted it on YouTube and we got 200,000 or 300,000 views in the first few days, we got picked up by New York Times, we won the Pogie Award, Brightest Idea of 2012.

Tim:: Does that mean that Apple relented? Did they let you back in, let you in the store?

Bruno: No. No, they never told me anything. Oh yeah, yeah, they let me in – after they saw the video, they let me in. But then Steve Wozniak picked it up. So if I have a problem, I can ask him to solve it.

Tim:: And he actually signed your phone?

Bruno: Yeah. I met him later on like a month later. We stopped talking after he used the app. I sent a email about some ideas I have and he was in Atlanta, so we met and signed my phone and so now every time I do a demo

Tim:: Can we see that, do you have that with you?

Bruno: Yeah, yeah, so this is

Tim:: That’s a pretty good endorsement.

Bruno: Yeah, yeah, pretty good. Yeah, the signature is great.

Tim:: Do you have any upcoming ideas for what else you could do with either this or some other apps?

Bruno: Yeah, there are a few things we’re working on, different things, same kind of things, kind of like I showed you, like the keyboard, that’s one thing but then as far as the app, we also have an app that will be a little more

Tim:: And, I guess, one thing the fact that the uniform shape of the iPhone let’s this happen?

Bruno: Yeah.

Tim:: But I’ve got an Android phone, it won’t even stand on its edge like that.

Bruno: No, it won’t stand on Android. I mean, I was thinking about doing bases, but then once you start bringing hardware, it lose the magic; the magic is that, you don’t use any hardware and it works and if you put a base, it’s not the same. That’s why I did the levitating one because it’s still a base, but it’s still cool. But I won’t do the kind of mechanical one.

Tim:: Well, it is magic. It’s cool.

Bruno: So you want to see first the app or?

Tim:: First the app.

Bruno: Cycloramic, so you have the hands-free mode which you saw, but you also have the manual mode for iphone4 or others and basically it guides you, so if you go off track or on track, it makes sure you line up perfectly your...

Tim:: It’s that line in the middle?

Bruno: Yeah, yeah. So, if you have track, it tells you. Or if you go fast, you see it’s going to tell it’s going to blink and then when you are ready, you just go like that and it saved the panoramic. So you don’t have to do 360, you can just do whatever you need. And then you got a video mode which is the same, but it films a movie and then you have different speeds: slow, fast; auto is the one where we have algorithm that constantly adjusts depending on different surfaces. You can do different turns, you can do infinite look, that’s for show. If you want to show the app, it just keeps turning and it blinks. So, you know, it’s just like, for kids you’ll have to see that. And then one cool feature is, once you’re done, you can export and if you have a panoramic picture like this one, you take any panoramic picture and then you can convert it to a video. So if you have a video, add a video, it’s much better to share. See that’s the panoramic, it’s hard to share. But if you do a video, I did a video of one of the booth over there. See this was the panoramic and that’s the video, so it will just make a video, so it’s better to share. So you put on Facebook, it’s much better than having the wide panoramic page. We experiment on other things. This is our latest experiment. This is not ready yet. It’s just an experiment, but basically we want to do this for Face Time where you can control remotely – you put your phone on the keyboard, but then on the other side you could control it. So you can film 360, do keyboard with Bluetooth, so you could put it anywhere in the room. So you could film, move it, but also the app could recognize face or when you talk it will follow you, but it levitates.

Tim:: Is that real time? It can move that quickly?

Bruno: Yeah, yeah, that’s real time, that’s our website, you can see it’s real time. I will show you again when it goes on, it’s pretty cool. See, you control it, left or right. There is still some work to do on it because it needs to start faster and when I get like too speed for speed, like there’s no use for that, that’s just for the demo. But then you can see the paper under it.

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Take Hands-Free 360 Degree Panoramic Photos With an iPhone (Video)

Comments Filter:
  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @03:34PM (#43175109)

    The reason this works is because the app knows exactly where the vibration unit is and where it behaves.

    If you had a stand for an Android phone the app would have to be calibrated for the stand, and for the exact model of phone you have.

    • by Ksevio ( 865461 )
      Presumably it could calibrate itself as long as the device has a compass/accelerometer and control over the vibration unit. The stand would have to work so the phone spins when it vibrates - I assume the iPhone has the proper shape or something that lets it do that.
      • Yeah, there's no magic to the app. They just turn on the vibrate mechanism. Phone spins by itself when the vibrator is on. The app also hooks into the camera APIs, I guess, so it's not quite as simple as "just" turning on the vibrator. But as far as the spinning feature, it's a byproduct of how the phone is designed; the app isn't doing anything particularly special.

        Don't get me wrong, still a really cool idea. It just doesn't represent some kind of clever hack of vibrate mechanisms.

      • I suspect it knows where it is in the panorama by image processing, not compass/accelerator. Because it has to do that image processing anyway.

        The proper shape the iPhone has is a flat bottom edge. Mobile phones tend to rotate when vibrating, but it's only good if it does so with the camera pointing somewhere useful.

    • by mjwx ( 966435 )

      The reason this works is because the app knows exactly where the vibration unit is and where it behaves.

      If you had a stand for an Android phone the app would have to be calibrated for the stand, and for the exact model of phone you have.

      If you've ever used Android, you'd know that the software handles panoramic photos, you simply move the phone and it automatically takes pictures when it reaches the right area. All a stand has to do is keep the phone level.

      So you, as per usual are full of it.

    • by adolf ( 21054 )

      Because, obviously, it's impossible to quickly try different variations of "spin the phone!" vibratory commands, and make sense of them automatically, because there's no way the app would know exactly how the phone is spinning...and then remember the results for the next time. Right?

      Except it can, because it's also analyzing the output from camera! It can see where the phone is pointing in response to its commands! And it has a set of accelerometers, a compass, and maybe even a gyroscope to help narrow t

  • by _xeno_ ( 155264 ) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @03:41PM (#43175181) Homepage Journal

    Here's the video you were probably expecting to see [] where the "spins the phone" feature is actually demonstrated rather than just talked about.

    I suppose that's kind of neat, but probably not worth a six minute video in which the feature being talked about is never actually shown off.

    • Here is a video that shows the spinning and then shows you a hack to using a small piece of tape to make it spin faster and smoother on more surfaces []

    • Thanks!

      Of course that video is an actual advertisement for the app. So possibly they didn't post it in the story because Slashdot isn't being paid to run commercials for this app. So instead they post an interview to avoid being criticised for running an ad, and they get criticised for not showing the demo. And then they still get criticised for running an ad. lol.

      The Slashdot editors make their share of mistakes, but sometimes I don't think they can win no matter what.

    • Equally important, it doesn't require f*ing Flash to view.

    • Where are the panos created of all those people moving around staring at the phone while it was vibrating around? Not shown, because they sucked! Only panos shown were avoid of any people, and nothing very close to the camera.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    This brings to mind people who used to code with the physical parameters of the machine in question in mind. Seek times, rotating cylinders, the works.

  • This is a video of a guy talking about a video of a device.

  • by Cammi ( 1956130 )
    Yeah, panorama is pretty much a fake (the built into ios6). Nobody can hold their arm/hand steady to even take a moving shot.
    • The Android "PhotoSphere" app built on the Nexus 4 works quite well, in both panorama and sphere mode. You don't need to be that steady.

    • I hope that was a troll. Because surely no one can be that dumb.

      • by Cammi ( 1956130 )
        Lol, you must be new to phones ... try one, and come back, instead of trolling. You are too obvious.
  • by JoeCommodore ( 567479 ) <> on Thursday March 14, 2013 @04:23PM (#43175587) Homepage

    Both the article and the app, shows there's more possibilities in ordinary/unexpected things. Excellent hack.

  • I thought iPhones were supposed to have rounded corners. How can they stand on edge? /snark

  • I have a couple of friends working at a company called "EyeSee360". They make pano mirrors ranging from a small optic that snaps onto your iPhone, to serious pro rigs that you can attach to 4K video cameras like Red's new offerings. Google them.


  • For the moment we'll just have to envy iPhone owners

    Nope. No, we won't.
    By the way, I saw someone use this app months ago and thought it was sort of neat but also a great way to damage your iphone when it takes a tumble.

  • let them fondle their balls while they spasm with fanboi joy at this gimmick :P
  • The video only works with an iPhone 5. I know a lot of people upgrade religiously after drinking the kool-aid but not all iPhones out there are iPhone 5.
  • This obviously requires the most perfect conditions to do what this advertisement says it does. I tried it on every table in my home and all I did was shake loose some embedded dust and annoy the cat. The phone never moved.

  • That looks great, but it is a toy, rather than a tool. I can see it being used in vidoes though, just take a panoramic of everything form now on and than turn it into a vid....

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