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Giroptic—an IT success story made in Northern France

21 Sep 2015 | A region on the move, ICT

Giroptic is the sort of success story IT startups dream about—and it all happened at Lille’s EuraTechnologies technology park in Northern France. We take a closer look.

Backstory

The story begins with a man who identified a gap in the market. Back in 2008, real estate agent José Costa was frustrated by the fact that he couldn't record 360° photographs of houses and apartments for potential clients. So he assembled a team of three engineers—one specializing in optics, one in electronics and one with a more general background—and together they produced the world's first truly 360° camera. Sales of the first version, designed especially for real-estate professionals, topped 2,000. Next came Girocam for the general public, featuring three fish-eye lenses and recorded high-definition 30Mpx images. But at about the same time a game changer hit the market: smartphones that took panoramic shots as a matter of course.

Innovate or perish

So the young company faced a new challenge—incorporating video. A challenge that demanded a new design, different technologies, and more money for development. Crowdfunding via Kickstarter looked appealing and proved a huge success. In fact Giroptic’s campaign to fund the development of its proposed 360Cam raised US$1.4 million—946% of the target—and presold 4,000 cameras, becoming France’s biggest crowdfunding drive ever.

Briefly, the 360Cam is light (180g), compact, sealed for underwater use and comes complete with WiFi and microphones for 3D sound. It uses three fisheye lenses and sensors to record UHD 360° stills and full HD 360° video.

One of the best

On a roll, Giroptic was selected to represent France at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas—where its 360Cam not only drew interest, it both amazed and impressed, winning the company an award alongside five other startups. Growing international recognition and strong US demand (70% of all orders to date) mean that Giroptic is now pursuing GoPro on its home market: the company has opened a San Francisco office while maintaining its R&D base in Lille.
More recently, Giroptic was selected by Business France to attend Web Summit 2015—known as the geeks' Davos—in Dublin this November.

Watch it on YouTube

Giroptic's future now hinges on ensuring that its image formats are compatible with the most widely used display systems. The 360Cam is the first camera in the world to record 360° videos that can then be viewed on YouTube or using the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset for a total immersion experience.

The scope of its flagship product’s success has surprised even the Giroptic team. "Day after day, we've been amazed at the new uses people discover for our camera," says operations manager Marian Le Calvez. Most recently, a team of surgeons has suggested using a 360Cam to record surgical procedures.

Watch this space

 

Sources: Maddyness, Usine Digitale

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