Review: Bubblescope and its 360-degree photos

BubbleScope2I felt a little, or a lot, like a Google Streetview car as I tried out Bubblescope on my iPhone.

Bubblescope captures 360° images or video in a single click, with a real-time preview and no image stitching. It works with a range of smartphones – we tried it on the iPhone 5. The system is simple enough, you put a case onto your phone and then attach the Bubblescope to the case.  The BubbleScope itself works by using a hemi-spherical glass mirror to capture a 360° view around the device. An arrangement of corrective optics and an angled mirror then re-directs the light into the camera’s standard lens and produces a ‘doughnut’ shaped 360° image. Finally a special app is then used to ‘unwrap’ this into a complete panoramic image in real time, which can then be previewed and captured as a still image or a video. The BubbleScope captures a 360° field of view so you can get a truly immersive panoramic image or video of the environment around the device in just a single camera frame. The result is exactly like Google Streetview for your house, party or holiday.

It’s a clever idea and works amazingly well.

Our Senior Photography Correspondent, Jennifer L, spent the weekend with the Bubblescope. She reported that it functioned as advertised, took some interesting pictures and videos, and attracted a lot of interested comments and attention from people she met.

There are some limitations. The first is that if you hold your phone like a normal camera, you’re always in the picture. For those with a larger ego that my own that might not be an issue; I found it disconcerting. There’s a simple way around the problem too – just hold the phone above your head. That gets you out of the picture but does have you imitating the Google car.

The second limitation, which is acknowledged by the producers out of the box, is that you need decent lighting to get a good photo – we didn’t find that a big issue though. Finally for best viewing you need to upload your photos or videos to the Bubblepix site using a dedicated free app (you can upload photos to other places but you don’t get the full immersive experience that way). Although that’s a limitation, it makes sense given the unusual interactive nature of the photos and videos.

Overall, Bubblescope is an interesting bit of technology. At $70 it’s an incredibly cheap way of capturing a 360-degree view if you are a real estate agent or something like that. And for an amateur with a mobile device it’s just a lot of fun to play with – you can get some really novel photos and videos.

bubblescope picture

The Bubblescope 360 camera attachment and case was supplied to us for review by the lovely folk at MobileZap.

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