It might look a bit like a space-age basketball, but it’s actually a portable, toss-able, Google Street View-style camera. Meet Panono, a passion project by Berlin-born photographer Jonas Pfeil.
Unveiled at tech conferences earlier this year, the spherical Panono is lined with 36 outward-facing cameras, each of which — when the Panono is thrown into the air — takes shots of the device’s surroundings. The resulting images are transmitted directly to the user’s smartphone via a Panono app. Then, for convenience sake, all are automatically stitched together into a 108-megapixel picture.
A panoramic Panono shot from Tokyo
The idea was born out of Pfeil’s computer engineering master’s thesis. A longtime fan of panoramic photography, he set out to improve on what he saw as the often subpar panorama experience offered by smartphones.
“We wanted something where several cameras fire at the same time, so it doesn’t matter if your subjects move,” Pfeil tells TIME. “So that there would be no ghosting effect, like there often is with phone pictures.”
He and his co-founders eventually constructed a prototype and pitched their idea on Indiegogo. They received more than $1,250,000 in months.
A panoramic Panono shot from Berlin
Coming in at a relatively reasonable $535 USD, at present only one actually exists — the prototype. But those interested in buying one can pre-order online, and those who backed it on Indiegogo can expect their spherical cameras to be shipped this September.
Panono uses lenses with fixed focus, so the images it produces — while always fun — can sometimes be slightly fuzzy. But Pfiel and team have just entered into a mass-market development stage, and there seems to be solid demand: An enterprising consumer has even set up his own Indiegogo pitch, asking for help in getting his hands on a Panono as soon as humanly possible.
Richard Conway is Reporter/Producer for TIME LightBox. Follow him on twitter @RichardJConway
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