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CES 2018: Pisofttech Pilot Era is a compact 8K 360 camera with in-camera stitching

Pisofttech Pilot is an 8K camera with realtime stitching
Pisofttech Pilot Era is an 8K camera with realtime stitching

Pisofttech Pilot Era is a powerful yet compact 360 camera with 8k video, 50mp photo, and innovative features such as a built-in touchscreen, and voice control.  But what I think is most impressive is how quickly it can stitch 8k or 6k video.

Here are the specifications:

LensesFour fisheye lenses
Aperturef/2.2
SensorSony 12mp 1/2.3-inch sensor
Photo resolution10,000 x 5,000
8,192 x 4,096
Video resolution7680 x 3840 @ 25fps*
5760 x 2880 @ 30fps*
3840 x 1920 @ 60fps*
*updated 1/11/18 2:45pm
Live streaming4K
Facebook and YouTube
Video format, encoding and bitratemp4
H.264 / H.265
Bitrate:
2 to 15 mbps per lens
Audio4 microphones
Ambisonic sound
StabilizationRealtime image stabilization with AI and 9-axis gyro
LCD screen3.1-inch TFT LCD
touchscreen
full color
800 x 480
Storageone Micro SD card up to 256 GB
ConnectivityUSB Type C
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
Ethernet (Gigabit)
4G
Nano SIM Card
Mount1/4-20
Battery life6000 mah
180 minutes recording
2 batteries
Dimensions61mm x 61mm x159mm
2.4 in x 2.4 in x 6.2 in
Weight565 grams
1.2 lbs.
Price and availability$3,000 (estimated)
April 2018 on Amazon

I met Pisofttech’s CEO Mr. Shen and CPO Mr. Gao and they explained that Pisofttech specializes in software and has been working with 360 camera manufacturers for a few years now but has finally decided to create its own camera, hence the Pilot Era.

The Pilot Era is very compact, with about the same dimensions as a regular-sized 16 oz. Monster Energy drink.

Thanks to Pisofttech’s expertise in software and AI, the Pilot Era has several unique features:

1. Realtime stitching for 6K video. 6K video can be stitched in realtime, in-camera. Imagine never having to spend time stitching 6K video.

2. In-camera stitching for 8K video.  With 8K video, stitching is not in realtime but can be done entirely in-camera. It takes approximately 2 mins to stitch 1 minute of video. By comparison, Insta360 Pro’s in-camera stitching takes 14.4 minutes per minute of video. Most other 8k 360 cameras can’t stitch 360 video at all.

If the user wishes to use third party stitchers, the camera can output to circular fisheye format.

3. A hybrid stitching approach. Some cameras use simple template based stitching which is fast but can only stitch correctly at one distance. Anything farther or closer will have stitching errors.  Other 360 cameras use optical flow stitching for smoother stitching but it is very processor-intensive and time consuming. Pilot Era uses a hybrid stitching approach that is comparable in accuracy to optical flow stitching but is much faster. In the demos we did, the stitching looked smooth for anything at least one meter away from the camera. The zenith also looked smooth because the Pilot Era’s lenses are pointed slightly upward, resulting is more overlap at the zenith. The nadir stitching was less smooth but was still decent.

4. Stabilization. Pilot Era uses AI to stabilize the video in addition to an internal gyroscope.

5. Easy intuitive controls. The Pilot Era has a color touchscreen with controls that are as intuitive as the controls on a smartphone camera.

6. In the future, they will add additional AI features, such as face recognition, gesture recognition, and being able to generate a depth map from a 2D 360 video.

SAMPLE VIDEO

During the demo, I asked if I could record a video and save it to my own memory card.  They declined because they were not satisfied with the software (e.g. exposure, etc.).  FWIW, the press kit included this sample from an early prototype (pls. choose the highest resolution):

The Pilot is estimated to be around $3,000, and is expected to be available on Amazon in Q2 2018.  They said they would send me a review sample for testing.  For more news on the Pilot, including an upcoming video of the Pilot in use, please bookmark this page.  In the meantime, here is Pisofttech’s official webpage.   You can apply to become a beta tester here (with a discount).

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Mic Ty

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