The ingenuity shown by people devising iPhone add-ons (both software and hardware) never ceases to amaze me. This latest idea is one of the coolest I’ve seen for a while.
The Dot is a 360 degree video camera attachment for iPhone 4. Snap it on your phone and it records video in all directions. The accompanying software interprets the weird raw footage – which is distorted into a donut shape – and turns it into something you can navigate with your finger.
Dot replaces a chunky piece of kit (about the size of a kitchen blender) with something small enough to slip in your pocket.
Watching 360 degree video is a bit of a strange experience, and isn’t so good for telling stories (although I’m sure people will use it for that). What it’s ideal for, though, is conveying atmosphere, mood, or setting.
With a 360 degree image to flip through, you can explore a scene as if you’re there. If you don’t like what you’re seeing in one direction, you can turn on the spot, and look the other way. Even while the camera’s moving.
The only difficulty is sharing these navigable files online. They won’t work on YouTube like regular video files. The Dot’s makers say they’re working on their own hosting service, where people can store their video files and grab embed codes for using elsewhere on the web.
The Dot is still in Kickstarter mode; actual products should be shipping by August.