May 6, 2018

How to make a DIY 360° Street View camera reusing your old smartphone

Do you have an old smartphone lying around and want to find a creative way to reuse it? Let's make a Do-It-Yourself 360° Street View camera and record your own hyperlapse videos!

DIY 360 degree Street View camera
DIY 360° Street View Camera mounted on the car

What you will need:
  1. Old smartphone - I used iPhone 4s, but any phone with full HD camera should be fine,
  2. Kogeto Dot - dirt cheap 360° smartphone camera lens,
  3. Magnetic sheet - at least 1.5 mm thick (or 60 g/cm³ pull force rating),
  4. Smartphone case - to glue the magnetic sheet to,
  5. Car - to put your camera on.
How to make it:
  1. Install any time-lapse camera app on your old smartphone. I have chosen iMotion, which is free, captures photos every 0.5 s, exports them to the photo library and has a focus lock,
  2. Stick the Kogeto Dot lens onto a rear camera. If you don't have an iPhone 4s, cut the plastic bindings and glue the bare lens to your smartphone so that the ring is fully visible through the camera.
  3. Clip the magnetic sheet to your smartphone's dimensions and glue it to the bottom of a smartphone cover. Cut a window on top of it for the Dot lens.
  4. Start a time-lapse app on your fully-charged smartphone, put it into the case and stick on a clean roof of your car. Now it's time to have a ride!
    Warning: in order not to loose your new Street View camera, do not drive fast or protect it with a duct tape!
  5. After a ride, take off the smartphone, stop the app and export photos to the photo library,
  6. Copy images to your computer using a USB cable,
  7. Unwrap circular 360° images using e.g. the free 0-360 UnWrapper, optionally adjusting the contrast, saturation and sharpness of JPG images.
  8. Create a video from your unwrapped panoramic 360° images using e.g. the open source ffmpeg:
    ffmpeg -framerate 24 -start_number 1 -i IMG_%04d.JPG -vf scale=iw*2:ih*2,pad=iw:ih*2:0:ih/2 -c:v libx264 output.mp4
    What it does: create a 24 FPS MP4 video from a series of images starting with IMG_0001.JPG, upscale by 2x and letterbox by 2x.
  9. Inject 360° metadata to the output MP4 file using Spatial Media Metadata Injector and selecting My video is spherical (360).
  10. Upload the 360° video to YouTube, Vimeo or Facebook.
Have a look at the demo videos below. You can pan the viewport during play using your mouse or W/A/S/D keys. The quality is not the best, but it could be improved using a smartphone with a better resolution camera or the Fishball.