Panoscan's first 18 months

The Panoscan System was introduced at Macworld San Francisco in January of 1999. Because of its 11 F-stops of dynamic range, outstanding user-friendly software, portability, and the almost incredible clarity of the Panoscan's ultra high resolution, It was then -- and indeed, still remains to this day a breakthrough in panoramic imaging,

Just 18 months ago, 7000 pixels vertical by 24,000 horizontal seemed to most people like overkill. Yet is the unique feature that has put Panoscan it in a class by itself. This ability to create an image that can "see" with the same visual acuity of a person with 20-20 vision is generating an ever growing list of applications. Many are entirely new, and were not really conceivable before the tool -- Panoscan came along to capture the imagination of VR pioneers.

Panoscan is not an inexpensive camera to buy or rent, and this expense must be passed on to the client. Therefore, he has to be confident that the expenditure will increase his profits, decrease his expenses or create improved client satisfaction with his company.

Unsurpassed Auto Interiors

The auto industry seems to have discovered the value of VR images of ultra-high resolution; because, to date, Panoscan has been used to capture car interiors for more than ten different auto manufacturers -- including BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Lincoln, Dodge, Ford and Volkswagen. Consumers have come to expect that they will be able to shop for their car on-line. Panoscan's resolution has made it possible. They now really can study interiors from the "virtual driver's seat."

Davo Scheich, of Davo Photographic in Detroit, was one of the first photographers to own a Panoscan, having bought his camera in late January of 1999. Since then, he has consistently pushed the envelope, striving to make the auto interior VR movie more and more useful to the consumer and consequently to the automaker. He first experimented with movies larger than 360 degrees horizontal. (The second time around showed the back seats folded down.)

Recent industry research indicates that the consumer is less interested in the back seat than in a really close up view of the dash. Also, when given a choice of a 350 K movie or a 1.5 meg movie, the consumer most often chooses the larger one. (Web surfers, it seems, won't wait even 20 seconds for a home page to download; but if they really want to see something, they will opt for the greatest detail, even if that means waiting for the download.) This Panoscan image captured by Davo satisfies the consumer's interest in detail.

His Buick Park Avenue movie puts you in the driver's seat, and offers a 180 degree horizontal view of the dash and front seats. The vertical view is from dome light to the back of the seat. The image is so detailed that you can zoom in to read the mileage on the odometer and study the quality of the stitching on the leather headrest. Note also that Davo has inserted a Panoscan image in the car windows that is carefully chosen to appeal to the lifestyle of the typical Park Avenue owner.

Airplane interior capture is another application that seems to be catching fire for private jet sales, vintage aircraft archiving, and for detailed VR movies of cockpits designed for use in pilot training.

Law Enforcement

If Kern County Sheriff's Department is correct, they are ushering in a new era in high-resolution technical investigations. A carefully crafted California State law enforcement grant made it possible for the department's Technical Investigations division to get the complete VR kit for object movie evidence capture and ultra high resolution panoramic crime scene capture.

Technical investigator Edward Farris-Nagatome is the driving force behind the new venture, which has strong support throughout the department, and specific interest from the County Prosecutor's office. Unlike in the auto industry, where increased profits is the litmus test for any new technical advance, in law enforcement, effectiveness is measured one successful prosecution at a time. Kern County is already testing Panoscan in count. As of this writing, a case is pending in which a Panoscan image will be used in the prosecution's case.

Showing an actual crime scene capture is off limits, of course; but Ed Ferris has prepared an intriguing demonstration of how this imaging can be used in court. Beginning with a panorama of a mock crime scene, we see a dummy dead body lying in grass. Around him, are little yellow flags with numbers on them. If you click on a flag, a hotspot will take you to a knife, for example. Clicking again will show an overlay enhancement of a fingerprint on the blade, and a further click will show you a comparison of that print next to a perfect match found in police records.

Another Panoscan project planned for Kern County includes capture of every interior and exterior space in every school in the county. In any crisis situation, it is a great advantage for police, fire and rescue to know what a space looks like, and where unwanted surprises can lurk before they enter the building. Ultra high resolution is also at work here, because it will allow officials to study details of electrical switches, air ducts, lock types -- anything that could contribute to a positive outcome instead of a potentially tragic one.

U.S. Air Force

Detailed documentation of environments is also the driving force behind the United States Air Force need for Panoscan's ultra high resolution. Specific information about their plans is limited, but the primary applications include terrorism awareness training; aircraft familiarization for emergency response; and documentation of strategic interior confined spaces for search, rescue, and recovery operations. USAF consultant, and executive producer of emergency response training courses, Dennis Foth, first saw the Panoscan at the ITSEC Military convention in Orlando, Florida. "When I saw the Panoscan, and the images it creates, the wheels really started to turn." Foth says, "I think it's a powerful defensive strategic tool. This technology will pay for itself in the first or second application we use it for. Prior to Panoscan we had to take still shots and stitch them together. It was labor intensive, time consuming, and expensive, and we never sure of the quality until sometimes a month or two later. Re-shoots can be very expensive and setting up logistics to reserve a large aircraft, such as a 757, or the Vice President's aircraft, can take as long as one year. With Panoscan you see exactly what you're getting immediately."

Handicapped Access

Finally, Panoscan has made inroads into an area that doesn't sell cars or planes, and doesn't solve crimes or foil terrorists -- handicapped access.

Metropolitan State College of Denver is using Panoscan images as part of a program that uses a web site to preview locations for persons with disabilities. Three Colorado locations are being photographed and placed on the Web. A current study is using heart rate data and other material to see if anxiety is reduced when persons with disabilities preview a site before going there in person. Preliminary data indicates that the project is successful in doing just that. The project can be found at:

You don't have to be handicapped to see the value of this kind of ultra high-resolution imaging. Panoscan inventor and President, Ted Chavalas, in association with the U.S. Park Service, is creating a soon to be released demonstration image that takes the viewer on a virtual rock climb.
Anchored to the side of a cliff in Malibu Canyon, the Panoscan with Chavalas dangling nearby, and a cluster of onlookers 25 feet below, was used to get a 20/20 look at what it's like to be hanging on the side of a sheer, vertical rock. When you move the cursor, you seem to be looking completely around, up and…be careful looking down. For anyone even remotely jittery about heights, this view will take a moment to get used to. "I was on the rock to capture the image, so I know what the real experience feels like. When you embed wind whistling audio captured on site, the Panoscan movie is very intriguing content."

Was Panoscan ahead of its time? Slightly. In January of 1999, DSL lines and cable modems were not widely available. However, the 56.6 modems, standard just 18 months ago, now have most people drumming their fingers with impatience. Panoscan's hi rez images look so stunning that in a world of high-speed connections, it is hard to believe the consumer will settle for anything less.

Company co-founder and CFO Casey Coss says, "In the 18 months since we introduced the product, I have never known or heard of anyone who was disappointed with it when they got their hands on it. It always outperforms pre-conceived notions -- the imaging is more stunning, the resolution deeper, the shadows more detailed, the colors more true, than we can ever imagine in an image that we are immersed in. There is no doubt in my mind that the content Panoscan creates, when viewed from a good VR Player, is helping us to move a giant step closer to understanding the true communicative power of interactive imaging for the internet."

For more information contact:

Lawerance Peters

Panoscan Inc 5632 Van Nuys Blvd. #150 Van Nuys, CA 91401 (818) 908-4641

Panoscan™ is a registered trade mark of Panoscan Inc.