HT Optical has allegedly developed a 4K 360-degree cam, small enough to fit into most popular smartphones. / Image credit: Engadget
We are used to looking at 360-degree cameras as standalone balls, which you can’t imagine being housed within a smartphone, as an integrated unit. However, a Chinese company, named ProTruly, has already produced two overly large and odd-looking smartphones that sport built-in 360-degree cameras, and released them in China last December. The camera units in the devices were supplied by HT Optical – a company that has traded with brands, such as Olympus and Sony, and supplied components for Xiaomi’s Mi Sphere Camera.
Apparently, Endgadget had a chance to have a quick word with the HT Optical’s VP, Shu Junfeng, at MWC Shanghai, who gave him a sneak-peek of an unreleased ProTruly device that sported a small, 360-degree camera that would comfortably fit into a 7.6mm-thick smartphone.
The current ProTruly Darling, shown in the pictures below, measures 8.9mm in thickness and 181.4mm in height – looking like a ridiculously elongated phablet, with weird protuberant camera lenses near the back and front tops of the phone. However, the unit Junfeng unveiled for Engadget could be fit into a device the size of an iPhone 7 Plus(7.3mm thick) and easily be housed in thicker handsets, such as the Galaxy S8 and S8+phones (8mm and 8.1mm thick, respectively).
What was also exciting about the smaller camera, was the fact that it is capable of snapping 16MP still images, which allegedly offer impressive zoom depth, and adds only a single millimeter to the device’s thickness. On top of this, the camera is also claimed to shoot videos in 4K resolution, which is on par with Samsung’s Gear 360 cam, with the exception that the last houses a 15MP unit, instead of 16MP.
The new ProTruly phones that allegedly sport the smaller 4K 360-degree camera are expected to launch in China on July 30th.
The handsets are unlikely to make their way to the western markets and are obviously intended for the upper tiers of Chinese shoppers, with current models selling at $800 (for a gold- and jewel-plated device) and $500 (for the ‘bling-less’ variant). However, HT Optical’s small 360-degree camera in the upcoming Darling models is certainly newsworthy and could serve as an example of what we may see in the future in smartphones in the west, but better-looking, hopefully.