Tom Lawton

Designer & Inventor


Because the world isn’t flat.

Pioneering mobile 360° video with BubbleScope and BubblePix App


I coined the idea of VR picture messaging in 2001 and began a ten year self-initiated R&D project to develop a ‘panoptic portal for VR communication’ aka a 360° video system for immersive viewing on your smartphone. But this was before the iPod and I had never seen a camera phone — there were no reference points and this was eleven years before the Oculus Rift. I co-founded start-up BubblePix in 2012 and brought BubbleScope to market.



Originally inspired by a jaw-dropping sunset I witnessed on a train in India, the real motivation behind this project was a disdain for what I saw as the prevalence of fake news. Excited by the rise of the citizen journalist I sought to make the technology as affordable and as available as possible. If a picture could tell 1,000 words then perhaps a 360° picture could tell the whole truth.



Starting with a radial array of cameras, exploring use of back-to-back fisheye lenses, panoramic refracting optics, 360° reflectors and unique catadioptic optical systems — every solution that I envisioned and have had widely published since 2007 has since inspired countless tech companies — including Samsung and the design of the Gear 360.



BubblePod came a few years later and was inspired by a desire to create the best high resolution still images possible with a smartphone — while utilising clock-work technology.



BubbleCam was the final development for BubblePix and was simply too far ahead of the emerging 360° VR scene to gain traction.