A 360 Degree View From One Sensor


A cyclops with a 360 degree view is what VSN Mobil’s V.360 could be called. This relatively low-priced ($449 for the V.360 HD kit) camcorder uses a conical lens to capture 360 degrees of fun on a single sensor that has up to 6480 x 1080 resolution.  The V.360 is more than a camcorder, however, as it snaps photos, does time-lapse, surveillance applications (triggers recording with built-in audio detect and/or video motion sensors) and even video conference applications (put one of these in the middle of the conference table and everyone gets in on the action).

What provides its enhanced capabilities is its connectivity, which includes Bluetooth 4.0 and WiFi. Bluetooth allows for control either via its supplied remote control or via an Android or iOS smart phone or tablet. The WiFi capability allows it to simultaneously stream to five people when configured as an access point or connect to the larger world via a WiFi network. USB 3.0 as well as sneakernet of the microSD card (up to 128 Gbytes may be installed) are options for transferring captured videos and photos.

With its built-in sensors (GPS, barometer, altimeter, accelerometer), this camcorder is made for recording adventures and capturing moments that might have been lost because the camera was pointed the wrong way. And if you drop it in the water on one of those adventures, it might not be a problem as it will stand being in up to 3 feet of water for 30 minutes. The 2610 mAH Li-ion promises up to 2 hours of record time.

It has a 1/4-20 tripod mounting screw, so it will fit any number of standard camera mounting hardware. Beyond that, VSN Mobil has a number of accessories that extend the features of the unit. For instance,  their V.360 Magewell HDMI TO USB 3.0 Video Conferencing Converter makes it easy to have 360 degree video conferences using standard conferencing programs like Skype or Facetime. Or, use their V.360° Viewing Googles in combination with a smart phone to feel like you are part of the action.

It records stereo audio with its onboard microphones [7/13 update – it will also accept external , Bluetooth microphone inputs). The file format is MP4 for video and JPEG for photos, so it works with standard editing software. As Matt Gordon, vp of brand marketing for VSN Mobil, explains in the above interview, there is no stitching of images, since they capture the entire image in one sensor. They have an exporter program for direct uploading to streaming services such as YouTube, Vrideo and Littlstar.

The above interview with Gordon features snippets of video and audio footage captured from the V.360. The first appearance of the V.360 footage is at 1:02 and only a portion is shown to make it appear like a “cut shot” from a regular camcorder. At approximately 1:52, the full file is seen (3240 x 2160 resolution at 15 Frame per second) – essentially 4 quadrants of 1620×1080) [7/13 update – Matt Gordon reports in a follow-up email that the frame-rate automatically dropped to 15 FPS due to the low-lighting conditions).

This little cyclops camcorder definitely has some interesting potential and it will be interesting to see the things people capture that otherwise would have been missed.