We originally spoke about Altia Systems’
PanaCast camera back when they were launching their wildly successful Kickstarter
which only had a funding goal of $15,000 and managed to achieve almost $50,000 in backers. For what could have been thought to be vaporware, Altia Systems was able to gain the trust of many backers to make the project a possibility.
Now that all of the milestones for the Kickstarter’s delivery have been passed, Altia is now going to be selling the camera to the enterprise community and consumers that wish to enable panoramic video conferencing. Just to give you a refresher, the PanaCast is a 200 degree-wide angle webcam that enables for extremely wide angle video conferencing with virtually no latency.
Since we last spoke about this product, however, some things have changed. The device is still a proprietary hardware configuration of 6 different cameras stitched together to enable one seamless video stream at 60 FPS. The improvements to this are the addition of HD audio capability via external mic or mobile device bridge. The device still comes with a free PanaCast app for iOS, but there is development under way for Android, Mac and PC and more.
The device has also added the functionality of being compatible with Skype, Google Hangouts and other enterprise apps. The PanaCast should theoretically operate just like any other webcam for most users, just with a much higher quality and wider viewing angle. It also has the ability to connect to Altia Systems’ own cloud –based video service which is designed to deliver optimal performance between PanaCast users and clients. This uses some patented technologies to enable the best possible quality and performance over the web, regardless of the internet pipe used (minimum requirements being met).
In addition to the added utilities for the camera itself, they have also built-in NFC for Android phones and a QR code for iPhones. This enables for easy video conference setup by tapping via NFC or QR scan. The fact that they’ve included NFC is a clear indication that they intend to focus on the mobile market and that they understand what an added value NFC provides. NFC simply makes it easier for the user to configure or connect a certain product to a customer’s device. This will improve the value of the device and the overall UX. And finally, they have also set a price for this solution at $599 which is still significantly cheaper than any video conferencing solution around, even if only hardware is taken into account. It is also immediately available, no wait necessary.
I actually had a chance to see the camera in action myself and I was more than impressed with it. I was video conferencing with Aurangzeb Khan, President and CEO of Altia Systems, and got a beautiful view of his whole backyard while taking to him about the updates to the PanaCast camera
. This was being doing via Skype, which illustrated the functionality of the camera to communicate over Skype while simultaneously proving the camera’s high frame rate ability and seamless stitching. While I was talking to him he was walking around explaining the different cameras and such and I could not help but notice little birds whizzing across the screen behind him. Little did he know those birds were the best proof of his camera’s prowess as those birds were clearly visible with no motion blur at a VERY high speed and absolutely no lag across all 6 different cameras, an impressive feat.
I’m definitely excited to see this camera finally shipping in final hardware and I look forward to getting one in my hands and doing a review. Possibly even make it my default video blog camera. I foresee this camera being bought by many consumers that simply need a wider angle camera, perhaps for people that need to show themselves and something that they’re working on at the same time in the same frame. Hopefully the enterprise and consumers recognize the value of this camera and give it a try, we know we will.
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