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BubblePix BubbleScope Review for iPhone 5


Reviewed By

Mike Barrett
Review Date

17th July 2013

Manufacturer BubblePix


£49.99 inc VAT


SmartPhones are versatile devices with capabilities from Navigation to Augmented Reality. Nowadays your phone does everything replacing the SatNav, Camera, MP3 player, etc. Oh and surprise, surprise, you can actually make phone calls with it!


One of the more innovative uses for the SmartPhone see the camera being used to make 360 degree panoramas with GPS location embedded. This is not a novel idea and there are many ways to achieve this, including built in software on the latest iPhones. However there are many shortcomings to a lot of these implementations. Bubble Pix have come up with a simple solution to create some stunning panoramas called the BubbleScope.



The BubbleScope is essentially a bit of hardware that attaches to your phone which when combined with a free app from BubblePix creates the panorama vistas. The BubbleScope is available for iPhone 4 and 5, the Samsung Galaxy SIII and the Blackberry Z10. My review sample was for the iPhone 5.


The BubbleScope comprises 2 parts: a case for the phone, and the optical device itself. The case is made from black plastic and forms a hard shell which can provide some protection for your device. The most important part about the case is that it contains a female mount point for the BubbleScope.



The BubbleScope itself is effectively a 3" by 1" tube that comes in a neoprene sleeve for protection. It has a male connector to lock into the case which can be orientated in either landscape of portrait modes. Pressing down on the top dome of the BubbleScope unlatches the device and a ball mirror pops up.



Taking a picture is quite straightforward. You need to download the free BubblePix app from the appstore you will also need to register your BubbleScope. Then to take the picture you simply launch the BubblePix app hit the central button in the row at the bottom and you have snapped an image. You may not want to appear in the picture yourself, and this can be achieved using the timer function. You don't need to restrict yourself to pictures it is possible to take a panoramic video as well.



Taking time delayed pictures is easy. As mentioned above the timer feature allows you to get out of the image, or pose in it, but means of support is required. The guys at BubblePix were smart when designing the case and optical tube: they are self supporting on any flat surface in landscape mode.


You can view the panorama on your smartphone either by swiping the image with your finger or by turning around. The application uses the internal phone sensors to determine your movement and matches the image accordingly. The bubbles can then be uploaded to your BubblePix account on the Internet and either be shared using the BubblePix site itself, social media, or by simply copying and pasting the code into your own website.


So how does this all work? Well the optical attachment projects a donut image which is recorded. This does indeed look just like a CD with a picture on it. The clever part is in the software that decodes the image or video and renders it on the device. The software converts the donut image and presents a sliding window on the screen allowing you to swipe the image around, or alternatively just move the device around and the sensors will provide information to the software to move the image with your movement.


This is all well and good, but the images need to be viewed on the phone using the BubblePix app. This is of course proprietary and will only work on a device with a registered BubblePix camera. Now BubblePic have realised that this is somewhat limiting and have developed an ecosystem around the BubblePix images that allows you to upload them to a central server and then to share them to your friends either via the BubblePix site or directly embedded in your web pages.


In use the device can have some issues gaining focus and will sometimes hunt for a while before the image seems to get clear. Ideally it needs good light to render reasonable images, and will have some issues on a bright sunny day when the sun will mess around with the exposure settings. As the image is created using part of the actual camera sensor the resolution is never going to be as good as the native camera image.


The iPhone has a built-in panoramic image capture that stitches a number of standard images together. This produces a higher resolution flat image, but I have had difficulty in the past of making these work properly. The BubblePix will always take a perfect 360 degree image of the subject.


There is obviously a novelty use for the BubbleScope, but there are also a number of practical applications for it as well such as in Property Sales and Rentals, Venue promotion, and general promotions giving a full 360 aspect of the area. For estate agents it opens up a new world of displaying a property which previously was a very expensive proposition.


The following are a few examples of BubblePix that I grabbed whilst reviewing the system:



This is the Space Shuttle Atlantis Exhibit in the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex whilst the exhibit was being prepared. Atlantis was encased in a protective coating.



Firing Room 1 at the Launch Control Center KSC. This is the view that the launch director would have of the firing room. Firing Room 1 is being refurbished to cater for the new SLS (Space Launch System) program to extend exploration beyond Earth's atmosphere.



The Astronaut Beach House is a very exclusive residence at KSC where the Apollo Astronauts used to spend their last days on Earth before launch.



This is the ATK Launch Abort Motor for the new SLS project. This will be the top component of the SLS rocket and will be used to pull the crew capsule away from the rocket in the event of a problem.


I didn't like the way that the software insisted that the BubbleScope had to be registered. This smacks of over-control to me. The software is useless without the BubbleScope and to have a BubbleScope means you must be authorised to use the software. I am all for registering where appropriate, but I feel that this is not appropriate.


I am in two minds about the BubblePix system. On the one hand at £50 it is quite an expensive gimmic, but on the other hand it could be a great business tool for the right industry. The images it takes are of fair quality, but well below the resolution of the native camera. That said they would never be used for printing and the resolution id good enough for web viewing.



Manufacturers Web site http://bubblepix.com
Pocket GPS Contributor

Mike Barrett

Forum Comments:


Posted by PedroStephano on Wed Jul 17, 2013 11:44 pm Reply with quote

Looking at that long flying fox video on the company website, it strikes me that this would be great for cyclists who wish to document road journeys and near misses (or collisions!) in traffic, as it could act as front rear and side view cam all at once. I know of a good handful who run rear cams as well as front cams so they can see the build up to incidents - this camera would do all that and more.

iOS rokcs (but my typing - well....)

Posted by taits on Fri Jul 19, 2013 2:50 pm Reply with quote

Probably about the same as with Apple and their software rework so as to mess up your Camera data application abilities with it.

Live with it, work with it & through it all.

Not sure about the 30 degrees you mention in Fla, I believe it was 30, but it could have been like it will be here, 105 today.

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