Archive for February, 2010

Video Panoramas Really Drop You in It

Video panoramas are the next logical step in visual media synthesis, merging still panos with “flatview” videos.  The capture system developed by Netherlands-based  technologists yellowBird is the video equivalent of the camera used to create StreetView shots in Google Earth and Google MapsYellowBird’s camera has 6 lenses and can be mounted on a walking frame (see image at right) or a vehicle using fibre-optic cables to deliver a data stream of 1200 Mbit per second. The integrated surround-sound mike system can record hi-fi audio at 96 khz.

Video panorama - Haiti

Video panorama, Port-au-Prince

Here’s a pano video shot in Avenue Martin Luther King, Port-au-Prince, Haiti using Immersive Media‘s 11-lens Dodeca 2360 system (the screenshot is to the left). Try panning around the full 360 degrees or up and down as the video plays. This added control of the video playback really gives you a sense of being in the scene.

Pausing and panning around lets you pick up details you’d miss in a straight video, so this is really extra information under the user’s direct control.  The subject matter is confronting – endless streets of buildings reduced to rubble – but also heartening as you follow individuals walking through the scene.  You get a sense that Haitians are really trying to get on with the business of survival and reconstruction of their shattered world.

Immersive Media’s camera has also been used for strictly commercial purposes.  Have a look at this ad for Armani Jeans with teenagers running through alleyways and managing to sell expensive jeans along the way.  Key points in the video let you zoom in or access the Man/Woman catalogue.  The immersiveness of the technology gives you the feeling of being part of the gang.  This could be the ultimate “lifestyle” commercial – where you don’t just get a glimpse of how carefree, stylish young people live (think Coca-Cola), you virtually experience it.

Swiss company Globalvision has integrated video panos with Google Maps, giving you a 360 degree video tour of main streets in Geneva.  The interface includes controls for panning, tilting and zooming as the video plays. See the first Related article below for more detail.

(images: camera – yellowBird, Haiti –

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Ever suffer from Grand Theft Impairment?

Grand Theft Impairment is a condition that affects some video gamers.  It’s defined by Urban Dictionary as “the 4-hour period of time that you cannot drive or function in society due to playing [Rockstar Games’] Grand Theft Auto.”  According to UD   you may end up having “the intention to steal a car, kill innocent people, and/or drive recklessly.”, much like the object of the game.

Need for Speed: Most Wanted

I’ve experienced the same impairment spending way too much time flying in a combat flight sim, (Graphsim’s F/A-18 Korea) then attempting to drive a (real) car.  The sense of invincibility that come with surviving a virtual air crash disaster with a mere reset somehow stays with you in the real world – only there’s no reset for dealing with a real world auto accident, unfortunately.  Your driving behaviour is definitely affected.  You tend to take the corners wider, accelerate that little bit quicker, and reach for the seat ejector when things get irretrievably out of hand (OK, maybe not the last one.)  Same goes for a straight driving sim like Need for Speed:  Most Wanted; even though the possibilities for wreaking havoc seems to be restricted to law enforcement chase-cars or race opponents, the sense of invincibility stays with you just the same once you hit the real road.

Given that most male drivers under 25 are likely to have a bullet-proof view of life built in, I can’t imagine the further impact of GTI on their driving skills, but it could explain some of the horrendous stats on auto accidents we’ve experienced lately (despite the increased compulsory use of safety technologies in all recently-sold vehicles).  This is just crying out for a comprehensive cognitive study on gameplay and driving skills…


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