Ever since technology made video cameras small and light enough to wear comfortably on the body, manufacturers have been busy one-upping each other with features like GPS tracking, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth streaming, integrated internet uploading, remote controls and of course, better filming capabilities. But the basics have remained the same: small, lightweight cameras that sits on the filmer's body or gear and takes point-of view footage. SOLOSHOT brings a different point of view to the action sports filming equation – it's a tripod that incorporates an automated tracking system to deliver third-person footage without anyone behind the lens.
Point-of-view footage can be compelling if done right, but there's a reason professional sports films use it sparingly and focus on third-party footage – it looks better, delivers a more robust view of the action and beats nauseatingly shaky, amateurish POV footage every time. Of course, for the average non-sponsored athlete, the wearable action cam is the best, and possibly only, way of filming. It's inexpensive, easy to use and doesn't requiring bribing a buddy to stand around holding a camera all day.
SOLOSHOT's hardware provides a third-person filming option that eliminates the need for another person. Essentially a smart tripod, the system pairs a 360-degree rotating tripod mount with a transponder armband. The would be action hero slides the transponder on his arm, allowing the camera to track his movement automatically. The SOLOSHOT rotates along the plane it's set up on and captures all the action. It can pan as fast as 40 degrees per second and has been tested to 143 mph (230 km/h). A flashing LED light lets the action star check that it's working. SOLOSHOT Inc. claims it is the first action camera hardware of its kind.
SOLOSHOT works with any camera that weighs 5 pounds (2.3 kg) or less and accepts a traditional 1/4-inch tripod mounting screw. It offers a camera lock as a safety mechanism, but that will be of limited value if the tripod isn't locked or watched. The system is reportedly good for about five hours of battery life.
The SOLOSHOT was designed to film surfing, but it is also being marketed at everyone from snowboarders to equestrians to parents filming their children. After launching in late September, the system took home an ISPO BRANDNEW Award this month. It retails for US$479, which includes the electronics, tripod and travel bag, but not the camera.
The video below shows the hardware in action.