PanaCast from Altia is a prototype that could change the HD video conferencing game forever. Although our screens typically use 16:9 or 4:3 ratios, the human field of view is much larger than that (especially if you count the peripheral vision), so the idea of ultra wide screen video conferencing is not new. System have been devised to give the impression that the other part “is here”, but they tend to cost tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars.
PanaCast is a kickstarter project that aims at changing the game by several order of magnitude. The company has the Panacast Camera, a 200 degree wide multi-lenses device that can shoot six streams of video simultaneously and stitch them in real-time into one contiguous ultra-wide HD video stream.
Of course, the receiving end of the stream may not be an ultra-wide display, but the PanaCast app allows users to pan left, right and zoom in and out all the way -at will- to follow the action wherever it is in the room. And PanaCast says that they can do all that with a sub $700 device and free apps (for mobiles and PCs). Now that sounds tempting doesn’t it? To entice Kickstarter funding, Altia is offering a “huge discount” (how huge??) on the cameras for those who help it get to market.
At the moment, the idea seems feasible and is rather convincing. However, we are really looking forward to taking this one out for a spin. *If* this work as described, forget about work: I’ll probably get a few for video-conferencing my family.