We all see the world through our own eyes. But video conferencing somewhat limits our perspective. Or at least, it did, until the advent of Altia Systems’ new panoramic HD video technology, Panacast.
Panacast is a new system meant to emulate human visual perspective, in order to achieve real-time video streaming with a 200° field of view.
In other words, you see what you want to see, giving users the ability to literally feel as if they were in the room, and able to focus their gaze wherever they wanted within that room.
The way this works is largely down to the camera itself, an ultra-low latency panoramic-HD multi-imager video camera integrated with a powerful streaming server.
The images captured are then crunched by a custom made multi-imager video processor, which synchronizes and stitches the video input from six camera modules in real-time to create the panoramic 200° field of view. That’s pretty much a full range of human head motion, unless you’re Meryl Streep in the movie Death Becomes Her.
It also works at a resolution of 2700x540 pixels at up to 60 frames per second.
The video stream is encoded by an ultra-low latency H.264 codec into an efficient payload that can be transported over the existing network, meaning the video can then be viewed on anything from a mobile phone to a mac or PC.
Users simply change their view, or field of view, with a pinch or a swipe.
What’s the hardware behind this visionary feat? Surely some supercomputing data cruncher? Nope. It’s apparently not much more than dual ARM microprocessors integrated to run the Linux operating system and a bit of real-time firmware.
The performance-optimized software helps a bit, of course. But the end result is what can reasonably be considered a fully-fledged visual computer at a price point below $700.
By comparison, conventional telepresence solutions cost up to $300,000 and require maintenance and dedicated bandwidth in addition.
The more expensive telepresence products on the market today also require participants to be physically present in dedicated rooms to get the full experience, something that is not the case with Panacast.
Altia Systems says the product has been in “stealth development” for three years now, in order to bake its custom silicon and novel algorithms, as well as security features which give it full VPN support for privacy and IT compliance.
Thus far, the Cupertino, California based firm boasts it has had one patent granted with 14 more pending and has already scored a round of venture funding.
Altia Systems has also taken its funding efforts to Kickstarter, where it recently launched a campaign.
The product is set to ship in Q1 of 2013 and the firm says it already has 15 cameras from its contract manufacturer in China with another 20 units expected in December and a further 100 cameras in January 2013.
For those keen to snap up the first few units, the firm said it is offering a “significant discount” to early adopters.
Check out the video below to get a better view: