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Each FullView® camera uses several discrete cameras to provide unrivaled panoramic images and video of any scene: that is, of a scene without any constraint, such as on object distance or motion.

In particular, FullView provides unrivaled, live, up-to-360°, artifact-free, blur-free, seamless video that has several times the image resolution of "seamless" video produced by competing techniques (see Comparison below). With FullView, objects can be seen far more clearly and much farther away than with other technologies, as evident from FullView's images (see Gallery).

FullView's superior image quality is the direct result of three factors:

  • FullView's use of multiple image sensors that are arranged in patented ways

  • FullView's more efficient use of each sensor than its competitors

  • FullView's use of patented methods to combine multiple images seamlessly

These factors are elucidated below.

Our Camera Design 
 

Each FullView design has multiple cameras effectively looking out in different directions from a single viewpoint — without parallax — with each but at most one camera looking off an individual planar mirror.


A Four-Camera Design

Whereas several variants of the above design are possible, its implementation by FullView in 1995 was the first to provide seamless, artifact-free composite images from multiple cameras. This implementation, executed at Bell Labs as illustrated above and then described in A True Omni-Directional Viewer, has been on permanent display in the lobby of Bell Labs at Murray Hill, NJ since 2000, where it was photographed below in 2009.


Original FullView Camera


Other Designs: Drawbacks 
 

Multiple Cameras   

Multiple cameras, each looking out directly in a different direction: Individual images cannot be integrated seamlessly unless objects are extremely distant, and even then only with time-consuming and complex image processing that blurs the final image. See www.ptgrey.com, www.immersivemedia.com and www.imoveinc.com.



Rotating Camera   

Single camera looking in different directions at different instants: Images of moving objects are distorted, fragmented or missing, all of which makes this approach suitable for imaging only still scenes. See www.panoscan.com.



Very-Wide-Angle Lens   

Single camera looking out through a fisheye or fisheye-type lens: Images of nearby objects are distorted irretrievably, the scene must be well illuminated or slow changing, and even then images can be captured only at a relatively low resolution. See www.ipix.com and www.immervision.com.



Curved Mirror   

Single camera looking off a nonplanar mirror: Images have low optical quality, the scene must be very  brightly illuminated or static, and even then images can be captured only at a relatively low resolution. See   www.remotereality.com, www.vri.ca and www.behere.com.





Primer on Technical Issues 
 

Multiple Camera Disparity
Multiple cameras looking out directly into the scene from different positions see the world with inherently different perspectives — that is, they each see each point in space in a different direction, with the difference in directions depending on the depth of the point. This makes it impossible, in general, to combine images from such cameras into a single coherent image without "image blending" — which requires substantial image overlap, often produces image artifacts, and unavoidably blurs the composite image.
Also see this primer: Outwardly Pointing Cameras.
Rotating Camera Distortion
In images from a camera that is rotating to create a panorama, a moving object will in general appear different and at a different image location at every instant, precluding both the object's whole and undistorted inclusion in the composite image and its complete exclusion from that image.
Single Sensor Inefficiency
Designs that use a single stationary camera — such as those using a fisheye-type or panoramic lens or a nonplanar mirror — provide low resolution not only because they use a single image sensor unlike multi-camera designs, but also because their circular or ring-shaped optical image typically spans only about half the area of a standard 4:3 rectangular sensor. However, see ImmerVision.
Curved Mirror Blurring
Reflection off a nonplanar mirror, in general, is blurred because each perceived image point is actually the image of an extended region in space — the size and shape of this region depending not only on the shape of the mirror, but also on the size of the camera aperture and on its position relative to the mirror.

Planar Mirror Reflection
Reflection off a planar mirror is always clear and sharp, irrespective of the size of the camera aperture and its position relative to the mirror.


Patents 
 

FullView has numerous patents worldwide that it strives to enforce vigorously.

FullView's patents in the U.S. include the following:

Comparison of 360° Cameras 
 

Currently, 360° cameras fall largely into one of three categories:

    1.  A single camera with a fisheye-type lens or a curved mirror

    2.  Multiple cameras looking out directly in different directions

    3.  Multiple cameras looking out off flat mirrors, à la FullView

Whereas a single camera is hindered by its low resolution, multiple cameras looking out directly cannot in general provide seamless, artifact-free images, as illustrated below and explained at length in Outwardly Pointing Cameras.




Google's Street View



Below is a good-faith comparison of the various 360° cameras in use today. Do visit the websites of the various companies to learn more about their products and to see their image quality first hand. Included below are still cameras, which capture still images, but excluded are still-scene cameras, which capture images of still scenes, such as cameras that rotate to create panoramas. If you are a camera user or manufacturer and believe our description of your technology to be inaccurate, misleading or absent, please do let us know and we will correct any error.



FullView versus its Competition




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