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A Nelson company has developed a product that has the potential to be the best time-lapse camera in the world.
Snap Information Technologies Ltd has just announced a limited pilot launch of the new SnapitHD³ series of live, immersive* cameras.
CEO Chris Rodley says once installed, the snapitHD³ camera captures live images of a 360° panorama, which can be displayed on websites and distribution channels online.
He says the primary applications for the new camera include tourism promotion, project management, construction time-lapse, monitoring and surveillance.
“Because there are no moving parts on the camera, multiple users can view the content at the same time and all be looking in different directions,” he says. “With a 360° SnapitHD camera you can capture what would normally take four or more fixed cameras, the camera can then be mounted in the middle of the action rather than off site. This means construction project managers for instance, do not have to secure permission to install cameras on neighbouring buildings, which is a big plus.”
Another application for the camera is for tourism operators. Chris says while the camera itself will never be a tourist attraction, it's attracting interest all over the world.
"An accommodation operator installed one of our cameras as a point of difference from his competitors. Within a few weeks he'd taken a booking for 28 people for seven nights, after the images were viewed by holiday makers in London."
The SnapitHD series of cameras is designed and made in Nelson by Chris Rodley and his brother Andrew. They provide high quality images using dynamic image processing with a high-zoom capability. The new online camera player lets users interact with a whole day of footage, which makes it useful for applications such as charting progress on building sites.
The SnapitHD camera has had exposure online via websites including metservice.com, Trademe Travel, Youtube, Facebook, Google Maps and Earth, regional tourism sites, newspapers, TV3, radio stations and others.
The company obtained Ministry of Science and Innovation (MSI) R&D funding through the Nelson Regional EDA to help develop the 360° live network camera. Earlier this year they took the prototype to the world’s largest consumer electronics show in Las Vegas. At the show the brothers made their pitch to everyone from the GM of Dreamworks to US rock band, Linkin Park and are now discussing projects with them. Chris says overall they’ve received huge interest in the camera.
“It’s been great – there are live cameras installed at sites all around New Zealand, showing images online from some of the best locations in the country,” he says. “We’ve also been busy working with TV3 for the past few months developing a time lapse generator for incorporation into their TV weather presentation software - it was exciting to see it launched recently with a beautiful time lapse from the Nomad's backpackers Queenstown SnapitHD Cam.”
Chris says the 360° camera with time lapse came from a desire to immerse the user in the location they are viewing - something that hasn’t been done like this before.
SnapitHD are accepting applications from businesses to join the pilot launch of the new SnapitHD³ live network camera. Visit the live demo at www.snapithd.com/launch/ to enquire about joining the pilot.
Panoramic camera specifications and ‘Content as a Service’ details available on request.
*Immersive media relates to digital technology or images that deeply involve one's senses.
Chris and Andrew come from a web application and hardware design background and have been making high-resolution web cameras for about five years.
They were prompted to begin developing their own cameras because of the poor quality pictures from the imported webcam their father had installed to keep an eye on his Hanmer Springs holiday home. Chris says his father wanted to see live shots of what the weather was like before he visited, and the camera became very popular online. The brothers built a camera capable of capturing the entire field of view and once the pictures were on the internet, they started getting lots of enquiries. For instance, they received emails from lines men about power lines and comments from people overseas about the beautiful shots of Hanmer. The SnapitHD live camera images are used on local websites such as the Tasman District Council, Neudorf Vineyards and Port Nelson. Several ski fields in the US are interested in the camera, so SnapitHD are trialling one at Rainbow ski field this year.