The Olympus Corporation of Japan has developed a new 360 camera lens, and a very special one at that. Besides a 360 degree panoramic view, it also offers 45 degrees of vertical visibility.
This way, you get an almost complete coverage of the surrounding area.
They’ve achieved that by creating a free-curved design that is also axially symmetrical. This way, the incoming light is reflected and refracted into a perfect panorama of the surroundings.
This way, a single lens and image source can be used to project an image or animation on more than half of a room’s surface.
Good news is that it’s not a one-way process. A beam of light can also be sent through the bottom, thus projecting that panorama in the surrounding space.
Olympus already have created a design that can be mounted as a normal lens to cameras or projectors.
Besides the obvious practicality of this lens when used with a security camera, I think this system opens up a whole new dimension of virtual sightseeing: imagine a perfect high-resolution picture of a landscape or museum room, projected in your own room through one of these lenses. It should be a wonderful and immersive thing indeed.
Below, you’ll see the reflection/refraction schematics, as well as the lens itself and a projector with one of these fitted.
Project page (Japanese), via SCI FI Tech.