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Toronto firm’s affordable 360-degree camera vying for Cannes award

A man rides a Google Street View bicycle that is mapping the area in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut on Aug. 23, 2012.

Chris Wattie/Reuters

The biggest gathering in the advertising industry has gotten off to a depressing start for Canadians. As of end-of-day Tuesday, nary a homegrown agency has made the winners' list at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity – missing out in categories including Creative Effectiveness, PR, and Direct advertising.

On Wednesday, a small Canadian firm will go before a jury hoping for a change.

Toronto-based Bubl Technology will be presenting its 360-degree camera, which is vying for a Lion in the Innovation category.

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The Bublcam takes fully 360-degree videos and photos; the kind most people are familiar with from using the "Street View" option in Google Maps. However, the company argues that while 360-degree cameras are not new, its technology will make it more affordable and accessible.

Marketers will be watching: Google Inc. has already been promoting Street View to hoteliers who want to provide 360-degree tourd of their facilities as a way to advertise themselves more effectively on the web.

Bubl founder and CEO Sean Ramsay says the company is also working on a mobile payments layer for its videos; so a retailer could offer a 360-degree virtual shopping tour of a store, and allow people to buy items along the way.

"Virtual reality-based commerce is something completely new," Mr. Ramsay said.

For now, the technology is still in prototyping, but Bubl has begun working with media companies, such as OMD, to better reach out to marketers. And there has been interest from companies such as Visa, Mr. Ramsay said.

Real estate is another industry that has shown interest in providing better virtual tours to advertise properties online.

Other companies, such as Lille, France-based Giroptic and San Francisco-based Centr Camera Inc. are advertising similar technology.

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This relatively new category at Cannes is unusual in that it asks creative teams to make the case for their submissions in person.

As online video has become more important to advertisers, Mr. Ramsay and his team will be arguing that better camera technology can make this type of advertising more dynamic and useful for consumers.

"It's totally new. There was no market before," he said.

The Innovation winners will be announced on Saturday.

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