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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)

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