Two years ago, Jonas Pfeil posted a video to YouTube about a funny-looking ball he’d created that was filled with cameras and could capture panoramas of the entire world around it. Three and a half million people have watched that video in the time since, and with all the attention, Pfeil has been working to turn it into a real product.
Panono captures an image whenever it's tossed in the air
In a campaign launching today on Indiegogo, Pfeil and his team are trying to launch the Panono ball. The Panono is a little bit bigger and heavier than a softball, and works in a surprisingly intuitive way: you just throw it. The Panono is meant to be tossed directly up into the air, where it’ll automatically detect the peak of its flight — that moment where it lingers before dropping back to earth — and simultaneously capture images on each of its 36 cameras. Since whoever throws the Panono gets caught in the image too, it has the side effect of creating one of the world’s more elaborate selfies.
But the most charming part of the Panono is viewing its panoramas. Over Bluetooth, the ball sends its photos to a paired app on either iOS or Android. Rather than scrolling around the photos with your fingers, you’re instead encouraged to twirl around while holding your tablet or phone out in front of you, allowing you to explore the entire image just as though you’d been standing there and looking around. They'll also be shareable online in an interface that should be familiar to anyone who's used Google's Street View.
Panono is looking for $900,000 to make the ball, which will individually sell for $599 but are available for as low as $499 on Indiegogo. While storage space and battery size haven't been nailed down yet, Pfeil says both should be just fine to get you through a day's use. And fortunately, Pfeil also promises that Panono's hard, plastic shell should be able to stand a handful of drops in case you aren’t great at catching.
Panorama taken in Times Square at dusk.