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http://www.google.com/patents/US20120206565

This patent covers the hardware design of a multi-camera array of video cameras making up a spherical or 360º panoramic video system.

The whole idea is fairly obvious and already exists in a number of commercial systems, so I'd like to know if anyone would be able to help to post concrete examples of prior art here which can show as many of the claims as possible as not novel or obvious in this patent application.

There are a few 360º panoramic video cameras already on the market, including the Ladybug http://www.ptgrey.com/products/ladybug3/Ladybug3_360_video_camera.asp Geonaute http://www.geonaute.com/camera360/ Sphericam http://www.sphericam.com and others.

Claim 1

  1. A camera device for creating spherical video and corresponding audio, said camera device comprising:

    a camera device housing;

    a computer processor for operating the camera device, said computer processor being located inside the housing; a plurality of cameras, each of said cameras having a lens attached thereto located outside the housing and oriented in different directions for acquiring image data; at least one microphone for acquiring audio data corresponding to the acquired image data;

    a system memory having stored thereon computer-processor executable instructions for operating the camera device, said computer-processor executable instructions comprising instructions for:

    initiating image acquisition; acquiring at least first and second image data synchronously from the plurality of cameras;

    acquiring audio data from the at least one microphone synchronously with the image data acquisition;

    processing the acquired first image data and the acquired second image data to create a single image including at least a portion of the acquired first image data and at least a portion of the acquired second image; encoding the single image and the acquired audio data into a spherical video file; and

    saving the spherical video file to a system memory.

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I think you should put a little more effort in writing a question in order to get help. –  Michael Szyndel Sep 22 '13 at 9:54
    
Looking at claim 1, the only reference to spherical is made in the Preamble and the spherical video file. Assuming that the claim preamble does not carry any patentable weight as it only states an intended use (for creating spherical video) of the camera device, I'd like to know what spherical video file means. –  D.Sachse Nov 13 '13 at 10:40
    
The words of the claim have changed since filing of the application, e.g. there is no "spherical video file" any more. Please see my answer below. The claim has become more broad and as such should be more easily invalidated. –  D.Sachse Nov 14 '13 at 16:14
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9 Answers

Many panoramic cameras have already been described in previous comments, most if not all of them existing before the patent application.

I believe the following systems were also designed prior to the patent application:

According to me it is a non-sense to claim such patent.

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This is important information, too important to be hidden in the comment section:

During patent prosecution, claims can change drastically and then they differ from the patent application publication.

Therefore, it is not sufficient to copy&paste the claims from the patent application publication. It is of paramount importance to access Public PAIR and check what the current language of the claims is!

The community needs to have the latest version of the claims to find relevant prior art!

How to retrieve the current claims:

  1. Please go to Public Pair at the USPTO
  2. pass the captcha
  3. enter the application number 13/371,137
  4. Click search. Now you see the Bibliographic Data of this patent application.
  5. Click "Image File Wrapper" tab.
  6. Search for "Claims".

In this application's file wrapper you find an amended (2013-07-01) set of claims right at the top of the document list.

Thus, at this stage of the prosecution claim 1 reads as follows:

A camera device for creating a media file including omnidirectional
image data and corresponding audio, said camera device comprising:

a computer processor for operating the camera device;
a plurality of cameras for acquiring image data, 
  each of said cameras being oriented in different directions;
at least one microphone for acquiring audio data corresponding to the acquired image data;
a system memory having stored thereon computer-processor executable instructions for
operating the camera device, said computer-processor executable instructions comprising
instructions for initiating an acquisition sequence, said acquisition sequence comprising:
acquiring image data synchronously from each of the plurality of cameras;
acquiring audio data from the at least one microphone synchronously with the
image data acquisition;
encoding the image data from each camera and the acquired audio data into  the media file; and 
saving the media file to a system memory.
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I like the swiss Panoptic camera mentioned in here. It covers most of the claim elements well. However, I think it misses the audio component.

Concentrating on the "audio" part, here are references to combine with the Panoptic camera (or other panoramic camera devices).

Seeley

US Pat. No. US 6097429 to Seeley, filed Aug 1, 1997: "Site control unit for video security system"

https://www.google.com/patents/US6097429

The invention discloses a SCU (site control unit) capable of controlling the operation of a plurality of cameras, see Fig. 7. In addition to the video cameras 22, audio microphones 52 may be employed about the premises. The cameras 22 may incorporate the microphones, or the microphones may be separately installed. Audio received by the microphones is processed by an audio processing module 54 of the SCU. Audio output signals from the processing are supplied to video compression module 50 for the audio to be compressed. The compressed video signals from the SCU are then transmitted to the system control with interlaced [audio interleaved with video data] compressed audio, thus enabling the operator to also listen in on an intrusion as well as view it. (col 13, 60-)

Fig. 7

Monroe

US Pat. No. 7023913 to Monroe, filed Jun 14, 2000: "Digital security multimedia sensor"

https://www.google.com/patents/US7023913

The digital camera for collects an image from one or more image transducers, compressing the image and sending the compressed digital image signal to a receiving station over a digital network. A plurality of image transducers or sensors may be included in a single camera unit, providing array imaging such as full 360 degree panoramic imaging, universal or spherical imaging and field imaging by stacking or arranging the sensors in an array. The multiple images are then compressed and merged at the camera in the desired format... (Abstract).

The camera may contain a microphone, audio digitizer, and compressor that allow captured audio to be conveyed, over the attached network along with the captured video. Audio and video samples are time-stamped to allow accurate synchronization at the monitoring station(s).(col 4:9-13)

As a further refinement, an internal data storage device such as a small disk drive may be embedded into the camera. This allows the camera to collect images and/or video and audio from cameras, which may be located at some inaccessible distance from the facility's data network. (col 5:7-11)

Sorokin

US Pat. No. 6522325 to Sorokin: "Navigable telepresence method and system utilizing an array of cameras" granted in 2003.

https://www.google.com/patents/US6522325

See for example Fig. 8, where an array of cameras and two microphones (818) are shown. Output of cameras and microphones is combined in a hub and sent to the server (804 and Fig.9, 902). See column 16.

Fig. 8

This reference might prove that is was obvious at the time of the invention to add audio to a multi-camera system, e.g. for telepresenting.

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The Panoptic camera out of École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland fits the bill pretty nicely. It has over a hundred cameras with specialized hardware to create stereoscopic omnidirectional video in real-time. Very cool stuff.

It seems that work started on this in 2009, which is before the priority date, but there have been papers are recently as 2013, so not everything here may be prior art.

There's a YouTube video of it in action (could have picked more interesting imagery though). I'm not sure whether it has audio, as required by the claims, but the idea of adding audio to video seems pretty obvious. Here are a few PDFs describing it in more detail:

enter image description here

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Sounds a lot like the Nissan around view monitor. Pretty sure that they don't use audio, and probably don't record the stream. Hope this helps http://www.nissan-global.com/EN/TECHNOLOGY/OVERVIEW/avm.html

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As far as video goes, May 25 2007. Google has effectively done spherical video with their street view program. It's effectively a video with a low framerate, and manual framerate advancement of a car driving around the city.

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I would look at the work done by Disney in 1967, Circle-Vision 360

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circle-Vision_360%C2%B0

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Prior art has a date requirement of being "old enough" but that is binary and can be the day before the filing. Earlier gets no extra points but being on- target does. In 1967 Disney did not have a system doing "processing the first image" or most anything else that is claimed. –  George White Sep 23 '13 at 17:31
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Panoramic Photography has been around since the earliest of times when photographers stitched together negatives to create a panoramic image. Sometimes, in art exhibits you would see a complete 360 viewpoint by the photographer printing individual prints and posting them up onto the spherical room walls and ceiling. As the digital age came about, photographers were able to use software to stitch together their images (i.e. photoshop) and create the panoramics that way. As Video came about, 360 degree video became available to the public to create and view. Multiple cameras have been used for a long time in the iMax theaters to create completely immersible experiences for the viewer - first with limited nature films and now with full length feature films.

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This is not a claim to a "stitched together" method but a computerized system that also takes in audio. –  George White Sep 23 '13 at 17:14
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We use since years 360° Video solutions... so what is there do make a patent with old thinks. So where is the patent worthy idea and the new mind

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