Category Archives: camera

Beautiful Tracking Shots with Wiral at CES 2018



Tracking shots have traditionally been the preserve of the professional filmmaker or broadcaster, first with cameras on dollys and tracks, then with  Steadicam and now there are cable or wire systems (SkyCam) that can move in three dimensions to get some really amazing shots. While these are all still expensive, the amateur filmaker can achieve a similar effect with Wiral Lite at a fraction of the cost. Todd hangs tight with Emilie.

The Wiral Lite system consists of a steel cable plus a motorised camera mount – the cable cam – that hangs from the cable and it’s a little like a miniature cable car. The cable is strung between two strong points, say, a couple of trees or street lights, and the cable cam is hung on the wire under tension. It needs the tension so that the rubber wheels can grip on the cable and move about. Cameras up to 1.5 kg / 3.3 lb can be carried by the cable cam so it can easily hold a GoPro. The remote control  moves the cable cam back and forth on the cable with adjustable speed.

The Wiral was successfully funded on Kickstarter in the autumn raising over US$1,000,000 and is now also crowdfunding on Indiegogo. There are currently perks at US$239 with delivery expected in August.

Todd Cochrane is the host of the twice-weekly Geek News Central Podcast at GeekNewsCentral.com.

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Clap for Kano’s Camera Kit at CES 2018



Kano‘s mission is to encourage people, particularly children, to see computers not as unchangeable appliances but as tools to be made, shaped, coded and shared. Their kits plug together bits, boards, buttons and cables to make individual and personalised computers. Bruno gives Todd a hand to develop a selfie camera from their new Camera Kit.

Kano’s approach is to challenge each young developer into programming simple apps that achieve technical goals. Using Kano’s development tools it’s really easy to build programs as the tools come with code building blocks for things like taking a picture or responding to noise via a microphone. Consequently, even Todd can code an app to take a picture when someone claps.

The Camera Kit‘s not expected until next year but you can sign up to hear the latest news. Expect the price to be around US$99.

Todd Cochrane is the host of the twice-weekly Geek News Central Podcast at GeekNewsCentral.com.

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Olloclip Pivot Grips Smartphones at CES



Olloclip is well-known for its clip-on lens system for the Apple iPhone, though new at CES is the Olloclip Pivot, a grip for smartphones, cameras and GoPros. Todd finds out more from Patrick.

The Olloclip Pivot grip is a bit different from an ordinary handheld smartphone holder as it incorporates an articulating hub which provides 225° of rotation so that the camera can be positioned conveniently to capture the best shot, whether skating, boarding or simply at the beach. The Pivot is water resistant so can be taken swimming or snorkelling.

The Pivot holds smartphones between 4″ and 5.5″ wide, and also takes a GoPro. There’s an integrated cold shoe mount too for lightweight accessories like a light or microphone.  Priced at US$49.99, the Pivot is available now. I want one!

In addition to the Pivot, Olloclip have a new set of lenses for the iPhone 7, including wide angle, fish eye and macro. The core lens set is US$100.

Todd Cochrane is the host of the twice-weekly Geek News Central Podcast at GeekNewsCentral.com.

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Thinkware F800 Dash Cam Wins CES Innovation Award



Dash cams are a big growth market at present and there’s plenty of innovation in the space from both established automotive brands to new tech startups. The team at Thinkware have innovated with the new F800 Air connected dash cam, borrowing ideas from the Internet of Things to make a “smart” dash cam.

To start with, the F800 Air can text emergency contacts when it detects a crash or collision, much like some of the manufacturer units. Obviously the F800 can be installed in any vehicle, not just a new one. Next, the dash cam constantly monitors the vehicle while parked and notifies the owner via text if there’s any untoward movement such as a door being dinged. Finally, upcoming F800 features will support geo-fencing and driver assessment, which is perfect for the parent who wants to loan their vehicle out to son or daughter and check that they’re driving safely.

Thinkware stated, “With the innovative ‘connected car’ technologies, the dash cam will take on an important role in providing both driver convenience and safety and the continued evolution of the capabilities of the dash cam seem boundless with IoT.

The F800 Air looks much more stylish too with the camera housed in an aluminium pod to one side. All this tech and good design means that it is a worthy winner of a CES 2017 Innovation Award in the car audio/video category. The dash cam is in the final stages of development and is expected to be available in 2017, but no price has been confirmed.

If you are at CES this year, the Thinkware F800 is at Sands Expo, LV.2 Booth 42572. Check it out.


Bluetooth Versus Wired



Coloud The Snap Active EarbudsFor some months now, persistent rumors have been flying that the next iPhone will do away with the 3.5mm wired headset port. There have been plenty of people arguing both against and for this idea. Some people say that the demise of the wired headset port is inevitable.

As an over-the-road truck driver, I’ve been using Bluetooth devices for years. To be perfectly honest, the majority of Bluetooth headsets suck, regardless of price. They typically suffer from poor audio quality, especially those intended for phone calls.
I have yet to find a Bluetooth microphone that produces anything approaching acceptable quality for anything other than phone calls.

Bluetooth stereo is great for certain uses, such as in the car or for use with certain Bluetooth speakers intended for casual listening.

With this in mind, let’s examine how a smartphone would work without a 3.5mm wired jack for the way people use these devices today.

I see plenty of people using wired headsets, day in and day out. That tells me that, unlike the floppy drive, which was dropped because most software was being shipped on CD-ROM’s, the wired 3.5mm headphone jack is NOT obsolete. The 3.5mm headphone jack is NOT falling into disuse. There are still millions and millions of people using wired headsets with their smartphones on a constant basis. Wired headset use is NOT dropping off.

Modern smartphones are also extremely good high-definition video cameras. While they have built-in microphones, because of the 3.5mm headphone jack it is also possible to plug in a wired microphone. Wired microphones on traditional consumer camcorders have either been absent or an option for costlier prosumer models. Take the 3.5mm wired headphone jack away and the option of plugging in a superior wired microphone goes away with it.

If Apple takes the 3.5mm wired headphone jack away, it doesn’t matter to me, because I don’t have an iPhone and don’t want one. There will be plenty of remaining Android models to choose from that keep their senses.

In fact, there have already been Android smartphones available on the market that leave out the 3.5mm wired headphone jacks. The Chinese company LeEco released three jack-less phones in April of this year. Ever heard of them? Me neither, until I did a search. I don’t get the impression they are burning down the barn with popularity.

I make extensive use of Bluetooth as well as the 3.5mm jack on my phone. I will never buy a phone that doesn’t offer a 3.5mm jack any more than I would buy a phone that doesn’t offer Bluetooth or WiFi.


Smanos Launches K1 Smart Home at Gadget Show Live



Smanos LogoIn the last of my smart home interviews from Gadget Show Live, I look at one of the new entrants to the market, Smanos. The Dutch firm announced their new K1 Smart Hub at the show and while it’s a good-looking piece of kit, the K1 is coming into an increasingly crowded space. I chat with Rafael about Smanos and the difference it brings.

Coming from a security background, Smanos has brought its understanding of that space to the smart home. The first iteration of the K1 focusses on security: the starter kit includes a siren, door/window sensor, motion sensor and keypard with the Smart Hub. As might be expected, the devices use Z-Wave for communication and there’s an app for managing and controlling the system, so additional sensors can be added easily.

Smanos K1 Smart Hub

In order to set Smanos apart from the competition, the K1 has well designed sensors that wouldn’t look out of place in a bijoux pad. All white and chrome with surface detail, it’s clear that the sensors are part of a matched set, and not awkwardly thrown together to meet a functional need.

K1 Smart Home

In addition to the K1 Smart Hub (GB£249), Smanos launched the UFO panoramic Wi-Fi HD camera (£149) with a massive field of view, and a smart video doorbell (£159). Both of these look neat.


TomTom’s Golfer 2 GPS Watch at WTS



TomTom LogoTomTom are well know for their in-car navigation devices with over 75 million of them sold since 2004, including specialised variants for motorbikes and trucks. Building on their success with GPS, TomTom has launched wearable devices for runners and golfers. Tom tells Andrew all about the company’s latest developments.

TomTom GolferAnnounced at the Wearable Technology Show, the new TomTom Golfer 2 is a GPS watch designed to help golfers improve their game by using automatic shot detection for detailed post-round analysis at the nineteenth hole. Incredibly, the Golfer 2 has knowledge of over 40,000 courses worldwide. It will cost 249 € when released in May.

Although not a brand-new product, I was impressed by the TomTom Bandit, an action cam with a killer feature. After a fast off-piste descent down a mountain, just shake the Bandit and it will assemble a highlight clip in minutes using sensor data to figure out the most exciting parts of skiing. As Tom mentions in the interview, the pain of video editing is one of the main reasons action cam owners don’t use their cameras. The Bandit costs from GB£269. I want one!

(Apologies to Tom – the last part of the interview didn’t record properly)


Cupris Smartphone Scopes at Wearable Tech Show



Cupris LogoThe smartphones in our pockets have cameras that could only have been dreamed of a few years ago, yet most only take a couple of selfies. So why not use these miracles of engineering to do more? Cupris‘ phone case converts the smartphone into a digital medical instrument. Helene tells Andrew more about their upcoming products.

The Cupris smartphone case mounts specialist medical lenses in front of the smartphone camera to take images and videos. The first device is an otoscope (right) for examining the eardrum and the second is an ophthalmoscope (left) for retinal imaging. The big benefit of digital imaging over the traditional scopes is that the pictures can be added to the patient record for review at a later date.

The otoscope will be available soon for less than GB£100.

Cupris Medical Imaging


ZED Stereo Camera Captures the World in 3D



Stereolabs logoStereolabs is the leading provider of 3D depth sensing technology for autonomous robotic and augmented reality. Their ZED 2K Stereo Camera is the first high definition stereo sensor for depth perception. It helps you to capture the world in 3D.

Nick spoke with Stereolabs Product Manager, Marc Beudet, at CES 2016. They talked about the Stereolabs ZED 2k Stereo Camera. Marc explained what is unique about it, how it works, and some of the ways it can be used.

The ZED 2K Stereo Camera relies on two RGB sensors. It is basically two smartphone cameras put together. There’s no infrared projectors or other fancy stuff. The camera captures the world. Next, that information is sent to a computer that uses processing power to generate a 3D image of the environment. The ZED 2K Stereo Camera can work in outdoor environments as well as indoor environments.

It is basically plug-and-play. Download the SDK from the Stereolabs website. The product is meant for developers. They will need an external host computer. The camera can be placed on a drone. The only limitation on the things that can be done with the ZED 2K Stereo camera is the developers imagination.

The ZED 2K Stereo Camera is priced at $449 and is available through the Stereolabs website.

Nick DiMeo is an audio engineer and show host at F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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Kodak PIXPRO 4k 360 Action Cam at 2016 CES



Kodak Digital DevicesTodd Cochrane talks with Paul Meyhoefer, Vice President, J.K. Imaging Limited, Kodak about the Kodak PIXPRO 4k action camera. The Kodak PIXPRO 4k action camera uses a 4k sensor to record 360 degree video with a 235 degree band of view.

The unit is able to use WiFi to produce a lower resolution live view on your Android or iOS mobile devices so you can check your camera aim. The device includes stitching software and editing software for both Windows and Mac.

The unit can support up to a 128 gigabyte Class 10 (or higher) Micro SD card. An RF remote control is sold separately for $45. Underwater housings and other mounts are available for sale on the website.

Kodak PIXPRO 4k pricing is $449 for the camera by itself. The Premiere Pack which includes various accessories is priced at $499. The Dual Pro Pack is priced at $899 and includes 2 cameras and accessories. The 360 degree videos produced are compatible with both YouTube and Facebook.

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