operations by attaching a $500 360fly 4K
camera, which is the size of a baseball, to
surgical lights above the patient. The 360°
view enables students to see not just the
surgeon and surgical site, but also the way
the operating room is organized and how
the operating room staff interacts.
Meanwhile, inexpensive 360° cameras
such as Kodak’s $450 Pixpro SP360 4K
are popping up on basketball backboards,
football fields, and hockey nets during
practice for professional and collegiate
teams. Coaches say the resulting videos
help players visualize the action and pre-
pare for games in ways that conventional
sideline and end-zone videos can’t.
These applications are feasible because
of the smartphone boom and innovations in several technologies that combine
images from multiple lenses and sensors.
For instance, 360° cameras require more
horsepower than regular cameras and
generate more heat, but that is handled
by the energy-efficient chips that power
smartphones. Both the 360fly and the
$499 ALLie camera use Qualcomm Snap-
dragon processors similar to those that
run Samsung’s high-end handsets.
Camera companies also benefited in
recent years from smartphone vendors’
continuous quest to integrate higher-quality imaging into their gadgets. The
competition forced component makers
like Sony to shrink image sensors and
ensure that they offered both high resolution and good performance in low light.
As the huge smartphone market helped
bring down component prices, 360°
-camera makers found it possible to price
their devices accessibly, often at less than