The explosion of Android tablets and smartphones has given rise to Apps of all kinds, including those focused on photography. The burgeoning market has also allowed individuals to create start-ups and change the way people do things, like take photographs. Oren Bengigi, CEO and Founder of Bengigi Studio, is one such success story. He talks about how he’s working with NVIDIA to revolutionize the way photography is enjoyed and how Tegra 3 is enabling him to push his ideas further with Photaf THD Panorama Pro in this exclusive interview.
Can you explain how your App came about?
It all started two years ago when my iPhone’s touch screen stopped working and I had to get a new smartphone. I purchased my first Android device and decided to develop a panorama App for it as a hobby. It was my first Android App. Learning to develop for Android was easy, all of the development tools are free and there are lots of documentations available on the web. I’ve had prior experience with image processing that helped me to develop the stitching algorithm. After a month or so, I had a semi-working version that I uploaded to the Android market for free and named it Photaf Panorama. Back then, there weren’t many panorama Apps for Android, so mine was one of the successful ones. I’ve improved it with each update and later added a paid version. After about eight months of polishing and adding new features, it became one of the top Android Photography Apps. I decided to quit my day job for developing Android Apps and games and started my own company, Bengigi Studio.
What's your company's technology background?
We have a strong background with image processing and optimizing it for mobile devices. We developed methods to perform the algorithm development on the PC and easily port it to the mobile device. We also entered into game development, when we launched our successful Android game, Noogra Nuts. Currently, we are working on a project that will combine two of my favorite interests: gaming and image processing.
What separates this App from other photography Apps?
Photaf was designed to be intuitive and easy to work with. It utilizes the device’s orientation sensors to automatically take each picture and to identify when a full 360 panorama is completed. The panorama is displayed with an OpenGL viewer that gives a real looking depth into it. The App’s panorama viewer can be rotated manually by touching the screen or by using the device’s compass. As you move the device, the panorama moves with you as if you’re at the place you took it. We also make use of the GPS data to store the location and display it using Google’s Maps API. The panorama can be shared with others by uploading it to a dedicated website at Photaf.com or via the regular Android sharing option. You can also set your panorama as a live wallpaper. As you switch between home screens the panorama live wallpaper will rotate accordingly. We almost used every Android feature in it.
How does this App take advantage of the latest Tegra 3 technology?
Photaf stitching code was modified to support multi-threading. By splitting the image stitching task to run in parallel, we were able to improve the stitching time by 40% over comparable dual-core processor. This also enabled us to run parts of stitching process in the background while taking the panorama. In addition, we’ve added an option to view the panorama as a flat image, with smooth scrolling by using OpenGL ES 2 and Shaders technology.
How does this App work on tablets versus mobile devices?
The App UI supports both large and small screens. Android allows specifying different UI layouts for each screen size so the same app will look great no matter if it runs on a tablet or a phone.
How have you worked with NVIDIA on this App?
NVIDIA helped with benchmarking the App -- that helped me identify parts of the code that did not fully utilize all of the CPU cores. They provided hardware to test on and helped with improving the panorama viewer. Besides the technical help, they also gave me great feedback on the App’s usability which helped me make it even better.
What excites you about the advances in chip technology for the mobile space?
Mobile devices are becoming more and more powerful and it is only a matter of time till they catch up with today’s desktop computers. Add to that the sensors you have on mobile devices and the fact they are mobile and you’ll get endless possibilities, especially in the field of computer vision and augmented reality Apps.
What has the Android market opened up for tech companies like yours?
The Android market is an amazing place for both professional and amateur App developers. It allowed me to start as an amateur App developer and end up as a professional. It is a place for developers to use their talent and creativity to create great Apps that will be exposed to millions of users. It feels great to know that my App is being used by millions of users.