ALLie 360-degree spherical panoramic camera promises all-encompassing video, all of the time
posted Tuesday, April 19, 2016 at 6:59 AM EDT
The age of immersive video is finally upon us, with cameras like the Ricoh Theta S and Nikon KeyMission 360 offering extremely affordable spherical panoramic video at the entry-level end of the market, while more sophisticated devices like the Orah 4i provide even greater video quality for professional use. But thus far, these devices all share one thing in common: They're intended to capture or stream relatively short clips, anywhere from a few seconds to perhaps a few hours at best.
But what if you want to stream video live, 24/7/365? Well, that's where the just-launched ALLie camera comes in. First shown at the CES show earlier this year, ALLie not only records and stitches 360-degree panoramic video for real-time streaming on YouTube, it's designed to keep doing so continuously, giving you an interactive, immersive portal into your home, office or event from anywhere with a reasonably good internet connection. Drawing its power from the wall and sharing its content in the cloud, ALLie frees its users from all worry about limitations on recording time. There's no battery or storage to run out, after all.
The ability to record constantly might seem like overkill -- and for some applications, it probably is -- but when you stop to think about it there are plenty of use cases where this could prove a big bonus for ALLie's maker, IC Realtech, over its rivals. At home, ALLie could let you pan around the room to check on family, pets or property from anywhere in the world and at any time of day or night. Businesses, too, could use ALLie to keep tabs on the workplace, or the feed could be opened up to their customers. Imagine being able to see how the kids are doing at daycare, for example, or an event venue being able to provide an immersive live feed of all their events for those customers who couldn't attend in person.
And we're not just talking real-time viewing here, either. ALLie looks to have some potential as a security camera, too, thanks to the ability to record and store video for one, two or three days after capture. Once the video ages out beyond that window, it's automatically discarded and continuously replaced by new real-time content. By default, ALLie includes one-day storage for an entire year free of charge, with subsequent subscriptions priced at US$7, 10 or 13 for one, two or three days of storage. (Charged monthly, we presume, although the ALLie site isn't quite clear on this point.) And if three-day storage isn't adequate for your needs, the company notes that it can also provide custom plans.
At its heart, the ALLie camera is based around two 1/2.6"-type, 10.5-megapixel OmniVision OV10823 CameraChip image sensors, each mounted behind an all-glass f/2.8 fisheye lens with a 200-degree field of view. A Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor provides the performance necessary to stitch video in real-time at 20 frames per second, and at an output resolution of 4,096 x 2,048 pixels. To help out when recording in low light, ALLie also features an array of 10 infrared LEDs, while audio is catered to with a built-in microphone. ALLie connects to an existing Wi-Fi network using 802.11ac/n/b/g connectivity, and for simpler setup, there's also a Bluetooth Low Energy radio used to connect the camera to an Android or iOS smart device for the first time. (And as an added bonus, you can also record video clips to your smart device should you spot something you want to hold onto once the live stream ages out and is discarded.)
All of this in a device that's just 3 x 3 x 3.5 inches, and weighing just ten ounces. Really, all that's missing -- so long as you don't need the higher video resolution and quality of cameras like the Orah 4i, of course -- is weather-sealing (ALLie's maker describes it as an indoor-only device) and battery power in the event that your mains power goes offline. And for the latter, IC Realtech notes that it is working on accessories for ALLie, suggesting that a battery pack may be on the way.
Priced at US$500 or thereabouts and available in black or white versions, ALLie is available immediately in the US market. A set of Google Cardboard-like plastic VR goggles designed to work with your smartphone serving as the screen is also available, priced in the region of US$60 and allowing your viewers to place themselves within the video for an even more immersive experience.
More details can be found on the ALLie website.