Usually, mobile phone accessories are nothing more than a sideshow at technology exhibitions, but the BubbleScope 360 degree camera add-on featured at the Gadget Show Live 2013 may just be an exception to this rule.
Manufactured by British startup BubblePix (founded in 2011), the BubbleScope is a passive optical handset accessory that immersively captures 360 degree images and videos in conjunction with an eponymous app.
BubbleScope operates in a standard vertical positioning allowing for 360 degree horizontal capture with a 100 degree vertical field of view and comes in handset-specific models, with a special connector case to fit your device. It is currently available for the Apple iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, and iPhone 4, as well the Samsung Galaxy S3.
According to the company, BubbleScope works by utilising a hemispherical glass mirror to capture the 360 degree environment around your device. Corrective optics and an angled mirror redirect light into the camera's standard lens to produce a doughnut shaped 360 degree image. The BubblePix app then unwraps this doughnut into a single immersive image, which can then be previewed in real-time and captured as a still or a video.
"Bubbles are not panaromic images like those a normal 'stitching' app can produce, they are fully immersive 360 degree media. It's like having Google Street View in your pocket...except the BubbleScope does video too," the manufacturer said in a statement.
The contraption offers a range of social sharing functionality, and its optics are fully retractable so the glass is protected from irritants when not in use and it also comes packaged with a cleaning cloth for good measure.
BubblePix said it was committed to furnishing the gadget to a range of devices in the future - a BlackBerry Z10 model and compatible app are coming in "Spring 2013." Further Android handsets and tablets will also get support this year, the firm added, and full international patents for the innovation are currently pending.
The existing models carry a suggested retail price of £49.99 inclusive of a case and are available via the BubblePix website. Additional cases can be purchased separately for £11.99 if you want to use the BubbleScope across multiple devices.