Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Contour announces GPS- and Bluetooth-enabled actioncam

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January 12, 2011

The Contour GPS actioncam records GPS data onto its footage, and utilizes a Bluetooth chip...

The Contour GPS actioncam records GPS data onto its footage, and utilizes a Bluetooth chip to wirelessly use a smartphone as its viewfinder

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The Contour HD is definitely one of the main players in the actioncam industry, although one of its limitations has always been its lack of a viewfinder. While it does have two lasers mounted on either side of the lens, that give a rough idea of what it’s pointing at, it’s never been possible to tell exactly what the recorded shot will look like. This can be kind of a big deal, particularly if users want to make sure that their surfboard, handlebars, paintball gun or whatnot gets far enough into the shot. At last week’s CES, however, the company unveiled a rather unique solution to the problem – instead of opting for an add-on viewfinder, like GoPro is developing, it has released a new camera that sends its picture to the user’s smartphone via Bluetooth. Like the Oregon Scientific ATC9K, the Contour GPS also embeds GPS data on its footage.

Not only will a live feed of the camera’s picture appear on a phone equipped with the custom app, but users will also be able to use their phone’s touchscreen to control parameters such as video resolution, frame rate, mic sensitivity, iris, contrast and sharpness – as they make the adjustments, they will be able to see the results in real time. To use the feature, users will start by turning their camera on and pressing its Bluetooth button, enabling Bluetooth on their phone, and then opening the Contour app.

The GPS feature records data such as longitude, latitude, elevation and speed onto the footage in real time. Using Contour’s supplied Storyteller app, users can then display that data on their footage in editing, in the form of a Google Maps image that appears on or beside the main screen, with a continuously-moving indicator that represents where the user was on that map at that point in the video. Speed and elevation are displayed below the map.

The Contour's GPS display, at CES

The Contour GPS sells for US$349, although that price obviously doesn’t include a smartphone. The Bluetooth software has already been created for iPhones and is awaiting certification, while the Android version is still in development, and is expected to be ready in a few months.

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About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
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1 Comment

Forget cell phone apps; this needs a PC app or a SDK so people can develop their own uses. I could see this allowing the camera to transmit to a wearable PC and from there the option to transmit the video via WiFi, great for security, technicians, anywhere you have distributed personell at a faciility - plant, refinery, etc.

alcalde
12th January, 2011 @ 08:01 pm PST
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