As a scorching summer draws to an end, Tech Trends has another round-up of cool tech products and gadgets for your delectation.
Wunder360 S1: 3D Scanning & 360 AI Camera
The new Wunder360 S1 is an impressive piece of kit that can take 3k resolution 30fps videos/1080P 60fps videos and 4k resolution photos with onboard stitching technology implemented on the CEVA-XM4 imaging and vision DSP. No extra post-production software needed, this nifty little gadget performs actions such as stitching two fisheye images together with the click of a button. Now that’s a time saver! It launched on Indiegogo earlier this month and with nine days left is, at the time of writing, at well over half a million dollars, 3086% of its target. Whaaaaaat? Lots of people want one and I can see why.
It is also tiny and at less than 100g & only 74*50*35 mm, it claims to be the world’s most compact 3D scanner and 360 camera, you could pop it in your pocket and take it anywhere. Sounds too good to be true, so let’s look more closely at some of its features.
The most eye-catching feature of this tidy little camera is 3D capture. 3D is the content format of the future, and the S1 makes it accessible for all. Now don’t get too excited, the results are impressive for the type and size of this device but they are limited. But it is fair to say you can forget the heavy and expensive 3D reconstruction devices for basic projects. The S1 is inexpensive and easy to use — just shoot a photo or video around the target you’d like to scan and then export it.
The depth estimation algorithms baked into the Wunder360 cameras are based on deep learning technology. With these smart vision abilities, Wunder360 S1 could be able to estimate accurate depth map from even a single piece of 360-degree footage. Once the depth maps are generated, a cloud-based 3D reconstruction engine (containing the computer vision technology called SLAM: simultaneous mapping and localization), kicks in and calculates the position of the camera, while drawing the 3D point cloud of the environment. 3D models and virtual tours are created after all this processes in the cloud.
As you can see above the Wunder360 Cloud Service is an integral part of this process. After uploading a clip of 360 video to the Wunder360 cloud service, you can create a virtual tour, generate high-density 3D models for display and download or convert the 3D contents into a Minecraft model.
With the CNN (convolutional neural network) deep learning framework, the system can recognize the main subjects in the videos. The AI model was developed to simulate human habits and continuously keep tracking the important subject in every frame. You can keep your target at the centre of the frame with this AI smart tracking functionality. Touch the screen to focus on the object you want to track and let the camera do the rest.
Say goodbye to shaky shots and hello to smooth and stable images with no gimbal required! The S1 uses Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS) to ensure that no matter how much the camera jerks, your images stay stable, sharp and in focus. The built-in EIS algorithm creates qite well stabilized and sharp videos from the raw footage taken by the Wunder360 S1.
The Phantom Clipper allows users to capture every part of a motion in 360. Ideal for athletes, dancers and others with an active lifestyle who want to analyze their performance. The technology, based on real-time moving target recognition and segmentation, allows users to create amazing multiplicity video with just a signal touch.
The camera uses advanced computer vision technology called DCNN background subtraction to segment the moving target from a video sequence. This algorithm learns environment information from the videos and automatically recognizes the moving targets, such as human body, pets, and vehicles. Then the Wunder360 App will put all the segmented foregrounds with a clean background for the final Photon Clipper animation.
All in all, this is a very ambitious camera but is held back by the physical quality of the device. However, it does only cost $300, currently $139 for early birds on Indiegogo, and the downsides here are outweighed by the fact the Wunder360 will put new technology in the hands of more people and as a first device to start learning about 3D capture and design it is a steal and recommended by Tech Trends.
Pick it up for the Early Bird price now: Indiegogo Page
BitsBox Coding Kits
Teaching children the skills they need to understand — and make — tech products (as opposed to just using them) is something I’m very passionate about. Even for kids who don’t go on to become programmers or anything along those lines, the knowledge of what goes on “under the hood” is always going to be valuable, as are the concepts of applied logic, persistence, and collaboration which come with building things with code. Read the full review here.
Varidesk Pro Plus 36 + Dual Monitor Arms
This month I’m testing out the awesome Varidesk Pro Plus 36 with these nifty Dual Monitor Arms which give excellent flexibility when adjusting my displays in relation to where I’m sitting (or standing as the case may be). These arms feature fully articulating 360-degree screen rotation for maximum ergonomic comfort, and come in both single and dual monitor options. As you may have guessed, however, these are specifically designed to work with the various models of the Varidesk so probably not the best choice for a regular desk.
These days most monitors come with fittings that will allow for wall or arm mounting, but one of mine was a bit older, so I needed to purchase some brace-like adaptors that kind of spoiled the sleek look. If your monitor is compatible, however, installation is pretty straightforward, and each arm holds up to 19.8 lbs (8.98 kg) in weight which covers most size monitors. The advice is to double check your specs and the back of your monitors before ordering.
Experts recommend that we shouldn’t stay in one position for long periods of time, but it’s not always easy to tear ourselves away from the desk to take those regular advisory breaks. By switching the Varidesk to a standing position, though, you can get the same sort of benefits while still getting the work done. It’s actually amazing what a difference it makes. I guarantee that after an hour or so you’re going to start feeling your legs working even by just standing still. Again it’s not exactly cheap, but it’s built to last and a good investment for a home office setup.
Varidesk is a great versatile piece of equipment. It is sturdy, practical and has room for your entire office setup. It works really nicely as an ordinary desk when it’s folded down, providing nice wrist support for typing, etc. and keeping your monitors at a good height.
Dual Monitor arms RRP: £185 Pro Plus 36 RRP: £365
Samsung Galaxy S9+
At first Tech Trends was excited to get hold of the S9+ but less thrilled once we turned it on. I used to be a Samsung Galaxy smartphone fan, in fact, my first smartphone was an S2 and I stuck with them for years before stepping out and trying LG and Sony before stepping back in 2016 to an S7 which was an OK phone. So I feel I am qualified to review the enormous S9+. Sadly I’m not impressed, not at all impressed. Read the full review here.