360-Degree Centr Video Camera Gives a Thumb’s-Eye View of the World

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a digital “bubble level.” (It’s a cool-looking ring of LED lights that turn green when the device is level, and red when it’s not; the effect is reminiscent of the power coil implanted in Tony Stark’s chest in the Iron Man movies.) The device will connect via Bluetooth to a smartphone app, where users will have the ability to change camera settings and preview what the sensors are seeing.

The thumb-friendly center hole can also accommodate an expanding gasket that attaches to a tripod or a GoPro mount. That means the device can be bolted to, say, a bicycle or a skydiving helmet.

Banta says Centr picked the $900,000 number carefully when it was preparing for its Kickstarter campaign. The idea was to stay below the million-dollar level, which Banta calls a “psychological barrier,” while at the same time asking for enough money to get the device ready for mass production—a classic stumbling block for hardware projects on Kickstarter. For Centr, the to-do list will include tasks like integrating the Movidius chips into the camera’s motherboard and getting all of the company’s existing image-processing algorithms running on them.

“We wanted to not set a goal so low that we wouldn’t be able to deliver,” Banta says. “We also needed to know that there was enough support from a market standpoint. There are always 500 people in the world who will buy an awesome gadget. But if we can get to 3,000 backers, we will feel better about the market as a whole.”

The company picked a new moniker to go along with its Kickstarter effort because “we wanted a name that reflected what the camera could do,” Banta says. “We’re able to create this 360-degree video that you experience like you are in the center. So Centr makes sense as a name and a brand.”

But unwrap the wraparound video in an editing program, and you get a panorama—and Banta says one of the most unexpected surprises from the beta-testing period was the emergence of what he calls “the panoramic selfie.” “People really like to pull pano-selfies out of these video,” he says. “Those are images you can’t get with your GoPro or your iPhone, and would be very difficult with any other type of camera.”

Confirming, perhaps, that today’s generation of amateur digital photographers and videographers still see themselves at the center of the world.

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