As there is no "practical application" for the entire sport of football, then it's probably the perfect fit :) Practical application is not necessary in any multi-billion dollar industry that has no practical basis in the first place.
But for any circumstance where uncontrolled changes of orientation occur, all this really is about is image stabilization, and in that sense, image stabilization is a significant issue already.
It's now standard in most video cameras.
But let's say that you had a tumbling spacecraft approaching a planet surface. You could spend millions stabilizing the craft... or you could simply let it tumble. If you wanted to image the surface on the way down and perhaps make a terrain map for later exploration... a fast camera and some software is a much cheaper and lighter way to go.
A camera in a bullet might allow the bullet be visually guided.
Anti-tank bombs that spin for stability could use it for visual targeting.
Remotely operated flying vehicles that don't require a stable body become practical (imagine rotors fixed to a cylindrical payload... no bearings or rotation)
It would be interesting to know the capture rate of the camera used. At 30 fps, the ball would be rotating about 90 to 120 degrees per frame capture, depending on the speed of the spiral. That would mean that of the 4 to 5 frames taken per revolution, only 1 or 2 of them would be pointed in a direction where they would provide usable data to be stitched together. That would probably leave an effective fps of between 7.5 to 15, definitely choppy compared to what we expect from our NFL broadcasts. However, increasing the frame rate to 120 fps, while it would certainly provide more usable frame captures per revolution, the amount of data would be greatly increased.
Just supposing that there probably is a sweet spot based on the present technology. My opinion is that the video quality is certainly good enough for now to determine what, if any, uses this might have in the future. Details about camera placement and fps will work themselves out, depending on the future demand for the product.
I would suspect that you wouldn't find many players throwing these balls into the stands anymore.
I agree, placing the camera at the end of the ball would create a better view and allow the ball to be better balanced. Then you could process the video in real-time using gyro and accelerometer data to keep the picture rotated level to the ground plane - hence smoother video without the dropped frames. Having cameras at both ends allows the ball to be thrown either direction plus adds further weight symmetry.
the camera they used seems enormous; especially considering the size of smartphone or eyewear cams.
Not sure why they mounted it on the side of the football. Seems to me it would be much better to have a cam mounted on each end - hidden in the point of the ball. Plus it would be easier to mantain the key physical characteristics of the ball.
Perhaps with the right positional sensors and algorithms, you could "unspin" the spin to view smooth tragectories toward and away from the quarterback.
Interesting article. I would really be excited about this possibility except that the NFL already has those video cameras on the wires over the field. That technology provides some great views of the action, and I wish basketball venues would go that way as well. The BallCam does offer a chance for close-up action that is unprecedented, although getting the design win could be a bit of a challenge.
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Good engineering designs are those that work in the real world; bad designs are those that don’t. If we agree to set our egos aside and let the real world be our guide, we can resolve nearly any disagreement.
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