2023-2024 ROC Optica Speaker Series: Zak Niazi, CEO at Circle Optics

  • December 05, 2023
  • 7:00 PM
  • The Institute of Optics - University of Rochester, 480 Intercampus Drive, Rochester, NY


Registration is closed

Evolution of the Panorama and the Mysteries of the Entrance Pupil

Zak Niazi - CEO at Circle Optics

Circle Optics | Stitch-less 360 Camera


Join us for a discussion about a breakthrough in panoramic imaging as we unveil the world’s first stitch-free 360 camera. This talk will delve into the innovative optical design that eliminates the need for stitching in panoramic photography, presenting a seamless and immersive visual experience. We will also discuss the history of the panorama, from 1800s to present day. Don’t miss the opportunity to witness the next frontier in panoramic imaging!

About the speaker

Taken from OPTICA Magazine Summer 2023

While taking lens design in college, Zak Niazi, the future founder and CEO of Circle Optics, wondered: if Google’s car-mounted cameras could map the planet, why couldn’t he strap on a headset and create panoramas of Venice, Italy? The answer, he learned, was parallax, which made computationally stitching photos together to create a 360-degree image a costly process—up to US$3,000 per minute of footage, according to Niazi. Circle Optics, he says, has a solution. Instead of combining overlapping circular fields of view computationally after image capture, the company’s technology uses abutting polygonal lenses—so it’s “stitchless” from the get-go. Where the lenses touch, the fields of view conjoin, allowing images to be snapped together seamlessly. Co-locating the centers of perspective of multiple lenses creates a combined, parallax-free panoramic image. Circle’s products, according to Niazi, aim at enhancing safety and “democratizing” immersive experiences. Pegasus is a miniaturized drone camera with defense and air-safety applications. It has a wider field of view than other products on the market, Niazi says, and the ability to see about twice as far. Another product line, the Hydra II camera system, could assist creation of affordable virtual-reality content for media and entertainment, as well as military training.

In 2019, Circle participated in the Luminate accelerator, kicking off an increase in outside financing. The US government has been an important early funder, and Niazi points to the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs as key support for building prototypes. Circle also used Wefunder to crowdfund more than US$200,000, which Niazi says was a chance to build community as well as dollars. Circle plans to launch its first two products later this year, with Hydra II debuting in July and flight testing for Pegasus beginning in late 2023. “What we’re trying to do is make experiences as accessible as information is today with the internet,” says Niazi. 

Parking and location

The talk will be held in the Room 101 of Goergen Hall (Institute of Optics, 480 Intercampus Drive).  Parking is available in the lot across the street in Intercampus Drive Lot, and is free for talk attendees (no pass needed).

Pre-talk dinner 

TBD: A pre-talk dinner will be held at the King and I Thailand Cuisine at 5:15 pm on 12/5 located at 1455 East Henrietta Rd, Rochester, NY 14623. If you would like to attend, please contact the house committee by email to make reservations. Email: house@opticarochester.org

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