A Windowless Elevator with a 360º Panoramic View

The Amoreiras Tower, in Lisbon, Portugal, recently added a rooftop viewing area that is open to the public. The top of the tower is one of the highest spots in the city, and the viewing area gives an impressive 360º view of the surrounding area. However, the elevator to get to the top left a lot to be desired. It’s an interior elevator, and didn’t itself offer any view.

So, Artica, along with Schindler, were brought in to solve that problem. The solution was to mount displays on the interior of the elevator, in order to simulate a 360º panoramic view of the city outside. The video is synced up with the elevator, so the view changes as the elevator passengers move up and down between floors.

Artica, who was responsible for the concept, design, and electronics installation accomplished this by first building a prototype in their office building. This was a full-size elevator replica with which they could test the design and get it ready for installation. They then partnered with Schindler to actually install the system in the elevator of the Amoreiras Tower, which necessitated almost completely rebuilding the elevator. As you can see in the video, the resulting view and accompanying music (definitely not elevator music) are fantastic, and it was even done in time for the public opening of the rooftop viewing area.

Like us, you may be wondering where the video footage came from. The scene moves in apparent parallax so video was obviously captured with continuous motion and isn’t a scrolling image. This is the work of a camera toting drone.

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Motorized camera rig makes panoramic shooting simple


Where some people might see a pile of junk, Hackaday reader and budget-conscious photo nut [FantomFotographer] sees inspiration. He was in search of a rig that would help him take better panoramic photos and found all that he needed to build one right around him.

He had an old tripod kicking around, which serves as the base for rig. At the top sits a pair of servos [FantomFotographer] attached to the tripod with some scrap wood, screws, and glue. The servos are driven by an Arduino Nano, which sits comfortably in a plastic enclosure he scavenged from trash heap. He uses an IR receiver to control the whole thing, which allows him to not only change shooting angles, but camera settings as well.

While it might sound like all is well with his upcycled camera rig, [FantomFotographer] says that like every project, there is some room for improvement. He’s keeping the source code under wraps at the moment, but once he gets everything working to his liking, he says that he’ll release it.

In the meantime, be sure to check out the cool panoramas he has put together.

360 degree photography uses very easy post-processing

[Pixel_Outlaw] has been working on a method to capture 360 images with his camera. He’s using a shiny Christmas ball ornament to reflect the entire room into the lens of the camera. In the unwrapped image you can make out the three legs of his tripod. In that snapshot he laid the ornament on the floor and pointed the camera straight down from above.

What catches our attention is the post processing he used to unwrap the image. He loaded up The Gimp, an open source image manipulation program, and used just three steps to unwrap the image. First he cropped the picture so that it was square and the spherical ornament was perfectly centered. Then he ran the polar coordinates filter. Finally he scaled the image, setting the width to be Pi times the height. Works pretty darned well for something that doesn’t take much fiddling.

The ornament wasn’t perfectly smooth (or maybe it was a bit dirty) but you can get a much better starting image if you use a bulb with a silver reflector like we saw in this older hack.

Tilt and pivot camera base uses just two servos

[Caled] shows us how to build a tilt and pivot camera base. One of these can be quite handy for taking precisely aligned images that can later be stitched together into panoramic, or even spherical images. We have grand visions of being able to produce something along the lines of these stunning interactive images with hardware that is cheaper and easier to build than this other motorized rig.

The design utilizes just two servo motors. In the image above you can just make out a pair of discs that serve as the base for the rig. In the center of the upper disc is the first servo, pointing downward, which rotates the camera. Two upright supports on either side of the point-and-shoot provide the framework for the tilt feature. The camera is mounted in a frame whose center is a threaded rod on the near side, and the second servo motor on the far side. An Arduino with a servo shield controls the movements along with a button pad and LCD screen as a user interface. The last step in the project log points to software options for combining the captured photos.

Packshotnik: 360 degree image creation

Packshotnik is a circuit designed to help with creating 360 degree images. It consists of a main board and motorized rotating platform. The board can send IR signals to a camera to snap pictures at intervals in the rotation. The source code, schematic, and pcb files are all available from the project page. While he is using this primarily for rotating 360 degree images, you could also just plop your camera onto the platform and end up with panoramic sets.

Panoramic scanner camera

[Photodesaster] put together a panoramic digital camera using a scanner and some miscellaneous parts. You may remember seeing something like this about six months ago and originally about five years back. The parts used here work together nicely. The sensor board from the scanner is mounted to a metal plate along with a 50mm lens. The plate is mounted to a hard drive platter that is turned via belts connected to the original scanner motor. This way, when you tell the computer to scan an image, the lens is rotated to capture the panorama. The use of an 18V tool battery is a nice portability hack for the scanner circuitry.

Judging from this 71MP image he has achieved some remarkable results.

[Thanks Stefan]

Build a Google-style panorama rig for $300


As part of a “disruptive technologies” course at the United States Military Academy, [Roy D. Ragsdale] produced a working prototype of a Google Street View-like system called PhotoTrail. Like its corporate-backed inspiration, the system captures georeferenced 360-degree panoramas that can be viewed interactively in a web browser…but at a hardware cost of only around $300. [Ragsdale’s] prototype is based entirely on consumer-grade off-the-shelf components and open source software, all tied together by the yin and yang of DIY: foam core board and a few Python scripts.

This article from IEEE Spectrum magazine provides some background on the selection of parts and construction of the system, including a hardware shopping list and a list of links to all of the open source packages used.

The PhotoTrail prototype is surprisingly small and lightweight. A vehicle isn’t even required; the camera array can be carried overhead by a single person, making it possible to capture remote locations. But [Roy] expects future revisions to be even smaller and less obtrusive, perhaps mounted to a headband. Mount Everest awaits!