PanaCast: A Potentially Interesting Twist On A Conference Camera

Altia-systems-panacast.jpgPanaCast is a new camera from startup Altia Systems. Newly funded via Kickstarter the company will soon be shipping the camera, which is a curious device aimed a providing a panoramic real-time video stream for conferencing purposes.

The device itself costs $599 and promises to provide a 200 degree field of view delivered to an iOS or Android application. They also have Mac and Windows desktop support.

The sample videos that the company offers are interesting. They point to some likely use cases, highlighting educational/presentation situations.

The web site is woefully short in technical details. However, a FAQ notes that the worst case bandwidth requirement is around 1.5 Mbps, which is about what I’d expect from a single H.264 stream.

Another FAQ quotes the image resolution as 2680 x 540 pixels at up to 60 frames per second. This suggests that the six embedded image sensors are actually typical of traditional SD video cameras. Their output being stitched together to create the panorama.

The Panacast camera connects directly to a  wired network. It also has a USB connector for the purposes of firmware updates. There is some suggestion that in the future the USB port may be used to support 3/4G wireless connectivity.

I look forward to news of this device as it starts to ship and land in the hands of real users. I suspect that it will quickly come to be used in some novel and interesting ways.