You can now shoot fully spherical 32mp 360 photos with your smartphone using theVRKit, a combination of hardware and software that uses your smartphone to capture 360 photos automatically. Here’s how to use theVRKit, and an exclusive look at their upcoming prototype!
Sometimes you want higher resolution from a 360 photo. There are a few 360 cameras with very high resolution, such as the Panono (108 mp) but they can be costly. Consumer 360 cameras typically have a resolution of around 15mp, with only a few that have 24mp or 30mp (Xiaomi Mijia Mi Sphere, original Samsung Gear 360).
theVRKit uses hardware and software to enable your smartphone to take fully spherical 360 photos at 32mp. It consists of:
– a smartphone rotator
– a lens adapter (160 degree field of view when used with typical smartphone lenses)
– app for shooting and stitching (available on iOS or Android).
To use theVRKit, you simply attach the lens adapter to the phone (making sure the adapter is centered over the lens). Then you attach phone to the rotator, making sure that the lens is aligned along the center of the rotator:
The app then connects to the rotator via Bluetooth. You press the shutter on the app, and it takes a photo, rotates, stops, takes a photo, etc. The app stitches the photo automatically.
Here is a sample 360 photo taken with theVRKit:
One feature of theVRKit is that the phone can tilted backward slightly on the rotator to have almost no parallax stitching error. Check out this seamlessly stitched photo of a car interior:
Besides shooting at 8K at 32mp, theVRKit can also take true HDR photos (from 3 exposures).
In November, they will also be adding a feature to take a partial 4K 360 video (a photo with video in it):
Preview of the theVRKit v2 prototype
They will also be launching a new version on Kickstarter in about 1 or 2 weeks, for shipping around Christmas. The new version will have an improved lens adapter with wider field of view for better stitching, and will be able to take 3D 360 photos.
Not all crowdfunding projects are worth backing, but theVRKit already has a working product on the market. It also was also created by Dermandar, a company with a solid history. Dermandar’s Panorama app has thousands of reviews on both iTunes and Google Play Store. In addition, they are also the team behind StereoStitch, which can stitch 2D 360 videos from multiple cameras into 3D 360 videos in realtime. So yes, they substantial technical expertise in 360.
Should you get theVRKit v1 or wait for v2?
You might be wondering whether you should get v1 or wait for v2? V2 is better but it won’t be released until Christmas, and as you know, with crowdfunding, there can be delays. Meanwhile, theVRKit v1 is available right now on Amazon:
– smartphone rotator (currently $65 before any discounts)
– lens adapter (currently $25 before any discounts)
– theVRKit app is available on the iOS App Store and Google Play Store
In one month, with very little promotion, they have already sold 35% of their production, and once they sell through, they won’t produce any more of the version 1. I think it’s priced reasonably, and if you take many 360 photos, the cost of a v1 would be worth it, even if you eventually get a v2, imho. Anyway I ordered a v1 and will be posting samples when I receive it. BTW, you can get a 15% discount on Amazon using the code LTD15OFF. Meanwhile, you can check out their official webpage here. Thanks to Egk Khoury and Ramon Garcia for bringing this to my attention!