Updated: January 26, 2018 (with actual sample video)
Originally published: January 23, 2018
Orbi Prime is a 360 camera in the form of sunglasses. Here’s a video of the concept:
Here are its specifications:
|Four lenses 160 x 110 degree field of view
|Field of view (stitched)
|360 degrees horizontal
300 degrees vertical
|Four 1920 x 1080 sensors
|Video resolution (stitched)
|4K (3840 x 2160) at 30fps
|"More than 4K"
|Micro SD up to 128GB
|90 mins recording time
|IP64 water resistance
I first wrote about Orbi Prime back in November of 2016. At that time, I expressed skepticism about whether the design was even stitchable because of the large distance between the lenses. Be that as it may, crowdfunding campaign far exceeded its goal, raising more than $340,000 from more than 1,000 backers.
Fast forward to CES 2018. I was looking for interesting things to see at Eureka Park, the part of CES 2018 for smaller exhibits from startups and small companies. It was there that I saw Orbi Prime. I was excited to try it out. Here’s a hands-on report from CES 2018:
At the booth, they let me wear the Orbi Prime and record video with it. There was no live stream but they said they would send me the footage (see below). Here is a sample 360 video from a protype that used the same lens configuration. This is the same video they showed back in 2016
At the booth, they showed more demo videos although I don’t know for certain whether they were taken with the Orbi or a rig with a similar configuration.
As I said, when Orbi Prime was first announced, I had doubts about whether it was even possible. Now I know for sure that it is definitely possible because there was another similar 360 camera at CES: the Linkflow FITT360. How do they compare? Linkflow FITT360 is also a 4K camera but it only has 3 lenses (if you removed one of the Orbi Prime’s lenses, it would have a very similar configuration as the FITT360). I know the FITT360 works because they had several units for testing, and it could live stream in 360, so you could see that it was indeed capturing a nearly spherical 360 video.
The Orbi Prime has four lenses, which means that it has the potential for better image quality or better stitching, or both. I didn’t get to inspect the videos very closely, and most videos were shown in equirectangular format, which made it hard to evaluate their quality. From what I could see, it seemed that the Orbi might have similar or a little better image quality than the FITT360, and it also has a smaller blind spot in the nadir.
However, one thing that I wasn’t terribly impressed by was the stabilization. The Orbi Prime is supposed to have image stabilization but the new samples I saw did not seem stabilized. Perhaps that’s why they haven’t posted them to youtube. Hopefully stabilization improves by the time it is released.
Last night, Orbi Prime responded to my follow up request for a sample video. They apologized for the delay because there were so many people who took videos that it became difficult to send samples to all their CES visitors. Per my suggestion, they sent me a sample video from a random visitor, with 4096 x 2048 resolution at 30fps. The video was unstabilized so I made a second version with stabilization from PowerDirector 16 Ultra. Here is the video (both unstabilized and stabilized versions):
This video is definitely a sample from the Orbi Prime. You can see it by the visitor taking a selfie. You can also see the video has around 300 degrees vertical field of view with a blind spot in the zenith and nadir because the glasses obviously cannot see within the area occupied by the user’s head. This is very much expected for this type of design (Linkflow FITT360 has the same characteristic). This sample confirms that the Orbi Prime is real and does work.
The video isn’t the highest quality and the stitching is not that great but because it provides such a unique perspective and is hands-free, in my opinion it is still useful and interesting, regardless of its image quality. Having said that, what do you think of the image quality? I think it would be interesting if they could redesign it so that there is a lens in the middle in front, a so that the front is not directly in the stitch line and then perhaps one temple / arm could be extended to the back to put the rear lens in the middle.
If you’d like to preorder Orbi Prime, it’s $399 from their website. Note that this is an actual preorder not a crowdfunding campaign. The expected shipping date is August 2018. Please note that during their crowdfunding campaign, they promised a ship date of August 2017, so the August 2018 date would already represent a 1-year delay from their original ship date (delays are common with crowdfunding). What do you think of the Orbi Prime? Let me know in the comments!