iSTAR® the world’s first automatic rapid 360º camera launches in Texas

Monday, April 16, 2012

Camera design and manufacturing company, NCTech, is today launching the world’s first fully automatic instant 360º panoramic camera at SPAR International 2012 in Texas. Eagerly anticipated, the iSTAR® is widely predicted to displace current technology globally across multiple sectors including police, military, engineering, media and heritage.

iSTAR® is the first 360º camera with the power to process its images internally, eliminating the need for post-production processing or stitching. Crucially, the camera requires no specialist training, and can be used by anyone.

NCTech’s co-founder and co-inventor of the iSTAR®, Neil Tocher comments: “360º panoramic imaging is now used across a diverse range of sectors worldwide and from policing and defence to engineering, media and heritage. With zero set up time, it is small, light and robust, making it easy to transport and quick to deploy. We believe iSTAR® has huge potential.

“The development of iSTAR® is probably the worst kept secret in the business and there is already a high degree of anticipation in the market about the product’s launch with pre-orders well exceeding original estimates. We are excited to bring this new camera technology to market and looking forward to it being deployed globally”.

iSTAR® is widely recognised as a disruptive technology across multiple sectors. Cameras are used by the police at road traffic accidents and crime scenes as well as for surveillance, general evidence gathering and pre-planning operations for counter terrorism purposes and at public order events.

360º panoramic camera technology is used by the military for covert and overt operations including rapid reconnaissance, location based information gathering in hostile combat theatre in addition to evidence gathering for tactical response planning, pre-visualisation and threat assessment.

iSTAR® has been designed to be integrated seamlessly into the Lidar scanning process used in the heritage, construction, surveying, architecture, mining and oil and gas industries. Panoramic images are superimposed onto point cloud data allowing the viewer to visualise a scene while accurately measuring and documenting a location, building or terrain.

Applications for media range from street mapping, spherical interior imaging, broadcast immersive media and virtual tours. For instance, iSTAR®’s portability and speed has the potential create immersive images of the inside of buildings and hard to reach locations in the same way as Street View allows for roads and cities.

Operated by a touch screen on top of the camera, iSTAR® can be controlled remotely via a tablet providing a real time view, more interaction and allowing the photographer not to be in shot. The iSTAR® can also be linked live to a TV monitor or over the internet enabling offsite control and interactivity.

The iSTAR® is precision engineered like no other camera and its construction pushes the very limits of today’s manufacturing and lens technology. With no moving parts and a solid steel body, it is this armour that allows the camera to operate at the highest level of precision in the harshest of environments.

iSTAR® is available in two models - Fusion and Pulsar – both of which capture the spherical environment - 360º horizontally and 280º vertically, including the zenith. Pulsar offers extended capabilities over Fusion, including speed and time saving features to speed up productivity and provide even higher quality HDR (high dynamic range) images. It also offers a superior user interface with live full immersive view and introduces network connectivity and fast capture for video surveillance. Fusion can be easily upgraded remotely to Pulsar.

The product is the result of two years intensive research and development, during which NCTech ran focus groups with a number of key markets. From engineering and heritage to the military and police, the focus groups were united in their frustration at the speed and length of time it takes to produce a 360º image.

Current 360º imaging systems can take around 15 minutes to capture and generate a 50 megapixel spherical image. Traditional cameras have to be physically rotated to capture dozens of images which are then painstakingly stitched together on a PC offsite. The cameras used are extremely expensive, bulky and need a trained photographer, so there is often a delay just getting camera and operator onsite.

About NCTech

NCTech is a camera design and manufacturing company based in Scotland and founded in 2010 by Neil Tocher and Cameron Ure. Following two years of intensive research and development by the co-founders, the company plans to launch its flagship product in the spring of 2012. A world first, the iSTAR® is a fully automatic instant 360º panoramic camera. Privately held, the company recently completed its first funding round and is listed on the Scottish Enterprise high growth stream.

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