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Short, sharp 'Appcessory' Reviews + News for fellow geeks, educators and parents.

Appcessories are App and Accessory combo devices - where an add-on for an iPad or iPhone has been specifically engineered to interact with a matching app to provide new functionality not otherwise possible.

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GoPano Micro 360° Lens

Accessory = 4/5 for an amazing solution to the problem of how to capture 360° video. The results even at a slightly low resolution are outstanding. Only some small limitations keep it from being a 5 (see below).

App = 3/5 for working some real magic to turn the fisheye input of the lens into pan-able video. Could use some interface polish and allow anyone iOS device to use the app to open and view GoPano files. 

 

WHAT

The GoPano is a lens attachment designed to capture 360° scenes with an iPhone 4/4S. The GoPano app then takes this non-standard footage from the lens and converts it into video which can be panned around in 360° while the video is playing live. Footage can be viewed within the app, on the GoPano website, or as a wide panoramic video in your camera roll.

 

HOW

The GoPano lens attaches vertically into a special case. By then holding the iPhone vertically, the curved lens and mirrors capture a 360° view and channel this down into the iPhone 4/4S’s normal camera lens. From there the app does its magical stitching of the fisheye results into a pan-able usable 360° video. Visit the GoPano blog HERE for a technical explanation.

 

VERDICT

The results of the GoPano micro have to be seen to be believed. It becomes obvious this is a real game changer the first time that you realise you can use your finger to look around the scene while it’s still playing live. You can download the free app or visit GoPano.com and see for yourself. There will be a host of applications for such a feature and at only $80, it adds alot of value for anyone who is already an iPhone4/4S user. 

On the slightly negative front, the lens does sit a bit precariously on the iPhone and at the moment the GoPano micro case has no tripod attachment which means you can only be used basically by holding it out in front of you, which is not the best position for getting a stable recording. (I would suggest getting a stick-on tripod attachment such as the Capta that’s been funded through Kickstarter.com  and will be available for sale shortly). I do prefer it to the similar Kogeto 360 lens however because the Kogeto can only be used if its lying flat, a position thats even harder to hold comfortably. 

In addition, the brand new unit I have on loan from a friend seems to have already collected dust in the lens unit, which, due to its design, is a little hard to clean.

A note on sharing - some organisations that have limitations on sharing information online may struggle to distribute their GoPano recordings in the true pan-able format. You can email them to another iPhone 4/4S user, but for others, the only option is that they view it is a more traditional, albeit still impressive wide-screen panorama.

UPDATED - the GoPano app has been updated with native iPad support for playing back GoPano recordings.


 

(EDUCATION VERDICT)

One education application might be for busy teachers who can’t have eyes in the back of their heads. Using a GoPano would mean that anything that happened in the room, whether it was at the front or back or left or right would all be simultaneously recorded meaning that after the lesson, the teacher could pan around to view what was happening for the purposes of behaviour management or for assessing the impact of their own teaching. 

 

Posted on Tuesday, January 24th 2012