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PanaCast to Offer a Bigger Picture on Videoconferencing

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Altia Systems wants to give companies a bigger picture on videoconferencing. That's why, after three years of stealth development, it's announcing its HD panoramic technology today.

Altia's product, which will be formally announced in either December or January, is the PanaCast, a camera and computer in one. The PanaCast includes multiple video cameras and can create a 200-degree panoramic image. The on-board computer stitches those images together in real-time, then transcodes the result into the needed formats.

The PanaCast system also includes an online component that tells the camera where to stream the video and client software that runs on Windows and Macintosh computers, as well as Android and iOS mobile devices. Windows mobile support will come sometime in the future.

PanaCast includes two noteworthy ideas that should make companies that rely on videoconferencing take notice: one, it creates a panoramic image that shows a wide selection of the room, giving viewers a much more natural experience than they currently get with videoconferencing systems. Whether viewing on a desktop computer or mobile device, each viewer has the ability to pan and zoon independently, getting a closer look at whatever they choose.

Second, the PanaCast hardware will cost under $700 and there will be no monthly or usage-based fees for basic service. That's because all video processing and streaming is done from the camera/computer itself. While there's a cloud component, its role is small; Altia doesn't receive, transcode, or stream the video from the cloud. The company will introduce value-added services sometime in the future that let owners record video.

PanaCast creates HD video and can adjust the stream for network performance, reducing or eliminating buffering. For a closer look at the video it creates, go to AltiaSystems.com. According to Lars Herlitz, Altia cofounder and chief marketing officer, the company will improve the algorithms that blend images together before the final product launches, so the shipping product will create a smoother result than the one currently being shown. The Altia web page also directs viewers to the Altia Kickstarter page, which Herlitz says exists more to find early adopters than to solicit funding. Those ordering through Kickstarter will get discounted pricing and priority shipping.

Look for the PanaCast system to ship sometime in the first quarter of 2013.

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