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PanaCast Videoconferencing System Shows Panorama Is Good for More Than Photos

November 14, 2012 | Telepresence Options
Panacast.jpgBy Bonnie Cha, AllThingsD,

If you've ever had to dial in to a videoconference for work, you know what a painful experience it can be. Staring at the backs of people's heads and struggling to see presentation materials doesn't make for a fun time. But one company is hoping to change that by thinking outside the box -- literally.

Today, Altia Systems, a start-up based in Cupertino, Calif., introduced a new video camera called PanaCast. It takes videoconferencing beyond a stationary, rectangular screen by providing a real-time panoramic view of the room and giving users the ability to pan and zoom the scene from their computer or mobile device.



"We felt that if we could bring a new experience that is as simple as the normal human experience of talking in real time, it could be really powerful for users," said Aurangzeb Khan, co-founder and CEO of Altia Sytems, in an interview with AllThingsD.

PanaCast uses a system of six cameras to capture HD video at 60 frames, and a custom-developed video processor that synchronizes and stitches all the images in real time to create a single, 200-degree panoramic view of the room. (PanaCast also runs the Linux operating system and features a dual-core ARM 11 processor.)

Altia's server then uses a low-latency encoding process that allows you to stream the video over a cellular or Wi-Fi connection, unlike some videoconference systems that require dedicated bandwidth.

Remote participants can view video using the company's Mac or Windows app or on their iPhone or Android devices. On mobile devices, you can use familiar touch gestures, such as pinch-to-zoom and swiping left or right, to zoom in on notes written on a whiteboard or to pan over to a speaker on the other side of the room.

"The experience you get with PanaCast is much more natural than current videoconferencing systems," said Khan. "You get to interact with it in real time, and it makes a difference because you're not a passive viewer anymore. You're engaged in the discussion and how you want to participate in the discussion."

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