Panoramic photos are fun to take with the iPhone camera, but capturing an interactive 360° video is a very exciting proposition. The Kogeto Dot, a panoramic video snap-on gadget for the iPhone 4 or 4S does just that, turning the camcorder function on the iPhone into a multi-direction recording device, with a limited vertical field of view. The Dot is easy to attach and remove; however the quality of video is somewhat pixelated and distorted.
As one of only a very few, the Dot is an iPhone accessory in a class of its own. The combination of inexpensive hardware and free software for iOS, that is compatible up to version 6, is worth the price as a novelty lens attachment. The iOS app called Looker, available in the Apple App Store, is similarly easy to use. The immersive video is fun to interact with both on the iPhone and on the web, but a few nagging issues keep it from becoming a must have accessory.
The Dot is designed as two iPhone accessories in one. Plastic clips attach around the iPhone, which securely places the 360° lens on top of the iPhone rear camera. The mount that keeps the lens in place is made of a very thin plastic. The only way to use the accessory is to remove any iPhone case and in my testing, any back film covering.
The lens is made with a slightly thicker clear plastic, but for best results, Kogeto should consider finding a way to remove the seam or make the lens out of glass. It comes with a drawstring cloth case to protect against some scratches.
The Looker app interface is so simple, that I wondered how it would be able to record 360° video, edit video clips and upload them to the Kogeto website. The first step in using the software is to calibrate it with the lens.
The live video view assists with resizing the black dot and the outer circle for calibration. The results were video clips without a gray border. Tap on the video record area, after tapping the record button, to focus the iPhone camera.
Once the video is recorded, the video is available to be watched immediately. Panning around the video in real time is a lot of fun, but the quality in the mobile player is pixilated. Pixelated video might quickly make you feel less than impressed after seeing clear iPhone photos.
Finally, there are options available to trim the video, edit the title and description for sharing on the Internet. Trimming videos uses the same method as the Photos app in iOS. Edit the title and description details, or default text will be displayed after upload. The app can share the video through a few online social networking sites, including the Kogeto website.
Performance and Usability
Once the lens is attached and the app is calibrated, learning which way to hold the iPhone to record the best quality video was a little tricky. The recommended method is to hold the iPhone with the screen facing down in your hand. Gripping the phone on the sides was uncomfortable and the video that resulted had my fingers in the shot. I was lucky that the app was compatible with iOS 6 and that it did not crash once while recording, trimming or uploading videos to Kogeto’s website. However, uploading from video from my computer to the company website took several tries.
Attaching the Dot was always quick, but I had to remove my iPhone case and rear film protector each time. Tapping on the screen to focus the internal camera lens, after the video started to record, was odd. Even with an eight-minute video record limit in the Looker app, my longest video was about three minutes, which seems adequate to capture a given scene. The quality of the video was less than stellar but the result is unlike only a couple of iPhone accessories on the market can provide.
Kogeto has captured my excitement with the possibilities of where to use the Dot in the future. Immersive video is very difficult to do otherwise, and the low cost of this accessory at ($49, link) makes it a fun novelty. With a few design changes for the lens cover and an upgraded method to capture HD video, the Dot would go to the top of my must have list.
- Light, simple design that attaches quickly to both an iPhone 4 and 4S.
- Low cost and free Looker app.
- Complete cloth cover included to protect the iPhone and Dot from scratches.
- iOS 6 compatible app.
- Clear audio and easy to trim video files.
- Fast calibration and setup.
- Video that is a fun and unique immersive experience.
- Thin plastic construction.
- Plastic lens cover with a seam.
- No HD video option.
- Requires the removal of iPhone cases and rear film covers.