I’m Sean Ramsay, founder & CEO, and I wanted to address the concerns of the community. Bubl has made tremendous advancement thanks to all of you. We’ve also been able to have a lot of you help beta test and QA Bublcams and software so they will be the best products we can deliver to you. We are preparing to begin shipping Bublcams beginning October 2014.
Because we need to get feedback from our backers and pre-sale purchasers in order to quickly control quality assurance, tackle support and make improvements as we launch as well, some of our backers are in extremely remote locations, our delivery schedule will begin from the 3rd week of October and will continue over the next 12 – 16 weeks.
There are a number of things that required us to delay delivery that the Bubl team and I wanted to share with you. Here are the primary reasons.
Hardware QA and Improvements
The Bublcam is a unique and complex hardware device. As we received the initial dev kits from our manufacturer, we had to begin doing extensive QA in order to ensure that the product would deliver the same appropriate experience and high quality content as the initial prototypes. This meant a lot of long hours and late nights and there were some issues that we discovered around power consumption, streaming media and in photo and video capture.
Sensor placement in the dev kits was not identical in every instance causing image shift. This was also the case with the placement of lenses into the lens mounts, which lead to issues with focusing that caused blur across individual cameras captures. This forced the team to discover and deliver new ways to calibrate the cameras.
Software Development and Becoming Platform Agnostic
There would be no point in delivering the Bublcam, even though the hardware is generally complete, without the software that will allow its users to experience every moment. Many people believe that creating a hardware platform is far more difficult then creating software, but in many ways the levels of effort and required support are very similar. Our software development requirements are extremely extensive and combined with our hardware tasks; we have had an incredible amount of work to do as you can see from one of our visualized task lists.
Bubl Apps & Software for Platforms
The world of digital devices that can play back bubls is growing, but the biggest issue is they are not all the same. With different generations of any line of device also comes the use of new hardware components and software dependencies, changing our development requirements for each individual device. In order to deliver Bubl content to users as well as allow Bublcam owners the ability share that content, we have focused for all current versions of devices and base development on Mac OSX, Windows 7, Chrome, iOS 7 and Android Kit Kat 4.2. This development continues in preparation for launch.
There is also our online delivery to consider. Bubl is in beta testing of Bubl.io, the hub for all of your media that allows you to create an account, upload and share via links and embeds spherical photos and videos directly from your mobile, tablet or computer. The current requirements from browsers like Chrome, Safari, Firefox and IE obviously are extremely different. Bubl software development team has been focused on creating players and software features, but they will not all be fully available across all browsers immediately. All browsers allow for CSS player creation (which for Bubl is photo only at the moment), but not all allow full WebGL playback. We have implemented Flash backup video playback as well. In order to provide users the best possible experiences like photo viewing and video playback, contrast, brightness, saturation controls as well as noise reduction and image enhancers. We will have to, in some cases, develop different players for different browsers.
Bubl will be providing limited access to Bubl.io with camera launch. As it progresses towards full launch we will see final design, much more content, features unlocked and Sign Up opened to everyone.
Image Calibration (the Ghosting)
Our firmware and software teams also had to address the software based image calibrations. It takes a lot to create a truly seamless image and we continue to strive for perfection. We have had some incredible results in calibrating our multiplex images, but not without some difficulty. Although we can create higher quality stitches in photos, we continue to evolve live video calibration as depth of field presents interesting challenges. We’re also working to deliver Auto-Calibration so that if you drop your Bublcam (yep it can be dropped and survive) and the lenses misalign, all you will have to do is hit one button in the mobile, tablet computer applications and the software will re-calibrate your images for a great finished product.
Streaming media from the Bublcam to devices is not a simple endeavor either. It becomes increasingly more difficult when there are different streaming protocols for different platforms. Bubl supports RTSP live video streaming, but what about HLS for Apple devices? Well, solving this and other issues has taken quite some time, but we have been successful in many regards and we will continue to improve the quality of the stream. Bubl is also in the midst of developing our own live streaming infrastructure to allow users to stream content and control the camera when it is directly connected through a wi-fi network. It will also allow for concurrent users to view your streamed media. With the launch of Bubl Live Streaming Services it will allow users the ability to share live media to up to 100,000 users concurrently. It’s not complete, but it will be very soon.
Prepare for Launch
We continue to move forward, but we are also going to begin to get you involved. We hope that with the delivery of the Bublcam that our community will be inspired to create content in ways we never could have realized. We have produced this product because, just like a lot of you, we too are enthusiasts and fans or what this type of technology will bring. This is the first time in our history where the growth of photographic, video based, spherical, 360º, gaming and VR immersive technology will allow for entirely new forms of media creation and it is all within our grasps. Bubl aims to put this power into the palm of your hand and we hope the world will never be the same again.
As the only fully spherical consumer camera in the world, the Bublcam is a device backed by the most forward-looking software in the industry to provide users with the ability to capture spherical photos and videos and share them with anyone, anywhere.
“Since its incarnation, the camera has been a pivotal tool to help people capture moments and tell stories,” said Sean Ramsay, CEO of Bubl. “Bublcam takes digital storytelling to the next level with zero blind spots and a fully spherical experience. More than just a camera that shoots on a horizontal plane, Bublcam enables consumers to pan anywhere in a given shot and then incorporates an online sharing feature to stream or upload content directly from the device.”
Bubl’s current collaboration with Google allows anyone with a Bublcam to upload spherical photos directly to Google Maps, StreetView and Google+. With features including real-time image stitching, self-calibration and image stabilization, a four-camera, tetrahedral design for zero blind spots and live video streaming, the Bublcam changes the way consumers capture moments and share their experiences.
The camera also features professional controls, including HDR, white balance, contrast and gamma, all in a device the size of a baseball. By utilizing the Bubl API & SDK, others can create software applications that can fully control the Bublcam and develop features on top of the current app to enable more forward-looking features like facial and image recognition, interactive touch points, motion tracking, cloud-based storage connectivity and integration to other virtual reality devices.
Bubl’s software applications will allow for iOS, Android, Oculus VR, Windows 8 (Xbox One), Chromecast, PS4 Amazon Fire and Avegant integration. The company’s goal is to allow for the consumption of spherical or 360-degree content across every major digital platform and device.
Bubl provides hardware and software technology solutions for the advancement of spherical content creation. The Bublcam is the world’s first fully spherical camera available to everyone, providing users with the ability to capture spherical photos and videos and share them with anyone, anywhere. Portable and lightweight the Bublcam can go anywhere and uses Wi-Fi to allow you to live stream directly to your mobile device.
When we launched our Kickstarter campaign last November, we hoped to sell two or three hundred Bublcams to photo, video and virtual reality enthusiasts and professionals around the world. Instead, we were blown away by the overwhelming response from an incredible community who was willing to help us develop Bubl technology. We didn't realize just how much being the first fully spherical technology provider would help cultivate an entire lifestyle for all other 360º camera manufactures, photos and video content creators and 360 application developers.
Manufacturing over a thousand Bublcams for your pre-orders as well as our backers, it's accompanying API/SDK and software is no simple feat. Because of this, we’ve been hiring, working around the clock and often just not sleeping, in order to produce and distribute units and the most extensive and easy to use apps and software in just 6 short, crazy months. We’ve had to modify our original design for mass-manufacturing and, at the same time, balance iOS, Android, browser and desktop development with our narrow schedule. We also recognized advancements that could be made in both hardware and software that would only serve to create the best zero blind spot photos and videos.
We wanted to have the Bublcams to all of you for the summer; but more than that, we want to ship only the best camera and software technology suite possible. In order to accommodate the required changes, software advancements, and manufacturing duration, we had to shift our ship date.
We're happy to be able to finally announce that Bublcams and Bubl software will begin shipping to backers in August and to pre-orders in September 2014.
We want to thank everyone for their patience and support. You will soon own the first and only fully spherical consumer camera in the world. We will be announcing some collaborations and partnerships that will enable you to do much more with your Bublcam and software.
We want to share a few details on why the deadline had to be pushed and what we've been doing behind the scenes to improve and deliver Bubl technology.
We were able to better test lens quality as well as colour and light calibrations. We wanted to ensure that as we delivered high quality video and photo quality. We had to ensure that not only would the Bublcam create the images our backers wanted, but our SDK will allow for you to edit items like Lens Correction, Gain, Noise Reduction, HDR, Brightness, Saturation and much more. The Bubl hardware and software is designed to provide features photographers and videographers, actually use, as well as standard shot modes to allow fast and easy shot capturing.
Since our Kickstarter campaign we have learned a lot about how much the world has been looking forward to using our technology. We did not truly realize all of the different ways content will be created. Our backers and pre-order customers included such a diverse group of incredible professional and enthusiastic individuals. We can't talk a lot about everyone we met, but one company wanted to share something you...
We have produced beta iOS and Android software for mobile phones and tablets, but it was in accomplishing some of the really important features introduced to us from everyone that really helped shape the final results. The search for top talent isn't easy for anyone these days, but we've been able to hire some incredible developers. Our firmware coupled with our UX, app and desktop designers and developers have worked tirelessly to create professional, well designed and easy to use applications. This effort continues today as we rapidly approach our delivery date.
We’re counting on you, our Bubl community, to help us shape the future of 360º spherical hardware and software technology. Your Bublcams will soon be in your hands and we hope you’re as excited as we are!
The pros over at Skydive Toronto were extremely helpful in getting us some crazy aerial footage. We weren't really sure if the camera was going to be able to withstand the airspeed and pressure let alone capture some footage.
Well, it succeeded at both. The bublcam passed the air test with flying colours and caught some great footage.
We tested this video with the Oculus Rift. There are moments when your body almost feels like it's involved in the fall. It's a little bit surreal, but I guess this is just the beginning.
Ripley's Aquarium opened in Toronto this past week. There was no way we were going to miss this opportunity. Sure, it will be around for quite some time, but why wait? Witness a wall of jellyfish; in such a way that it makes you wish you could just walk right into water.