Ethnographer’s Mobile Tools – Dot and The Looker – 360 Degree Video

December 28, 2011

in ethnographers tools, ethnography, iphone, Mobility

DotandLooker.jpgNow this is one experimental product I’m hoping to make use of… rather than just having it sitting here. Here’s the problem. You are running a small group interview. Typically the camera or cameras are set up facing in one direction. Usually to capture most of the group, and typically not the moderator. However, the camera is never really looking at anyone. Yes you and I know why they don’t like being on the camera. Now many of you will have been in a Theatre in the round – a 360 degree view. Each way you turn, you see what’s happening. Or you may have wondered how they take those car chase movies. I think in the old days it was 9 cameras mounted on the roof of a moving vehicle. Now today… imagine you could do that with your iPhone!

Yes 360 degree video. Say hello to Dot.

Watch your videos on your iPhone 4 / 4S by swiping your screen to virtually spin around, or switch modes and view them in panoramic widescreen. Looker allows you to instantly share your 360° world with friends and family (via facebook, twitter, or kogeto.com) right from the palm of your hand.

Yes, now imagine Dot / iPhone in the middle of a group session. On playback you can focus in on who’s talking and move around the group at will. Well that’s my theory at least so far. I just got it and began testing. Examples of tests I’ve run… putting it in the middle of a table and walking around it. The focus was surprisingly good and the definition ok in an indoor environment. As a device it could be placed relatively discretely. You simply place the iPhone screen down… so have something flat to put it on. Unfortunately, it isn’t going to work with a tripod…. so perhaps under a few books might be best.

At $79 this is not your bargain basement test and it has a few challenges with using it. First up, it’s a screen down app. So after setting it up (alignment is easy in the looker app) you press record… and hold it flat. Well record is hard to see. Be nice if Apple would let them use the speaker button as the camera start and stop. The next problem you have.. is duration. It’s limited to 3 minutes. I contacted Kogeto the makers and they assured me that the next iPhone app update for Looker will have that worked into it. I certainly hope so… for otherwise I’m not going to get a lot of use out of this. See what others are doing with it at Dotspots. I suspect it could be a little like the modern reinvention of the fisheye lens. I’m still thinking about where to mount it on my Motorcycle. Yet the problem is activating it as the record button will be hidden under any mount. Even better if I could just say… “Siri launch looker and record”. Apple are you listening? I really need Siri to be smarter now!

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