GoPro and Contour are upgrading their go-anywhere helmet cameras so that users can finally see what they are filming as they shoot.
The GoPro is probably the most widely-used miniature, waterproof, point-of-view action camera for broadcast work, despite the fact that you have to just point it in the general direction of what you are shooting and hope it gets it – as it is normally fixed to a helmet, or bike handlebars, or some other form of transport, there isn't usually much you could do to frame it anyway.
However, next month GoPro is introducing a removable LCD BacPac (costing less than $70) for live viewing and camera control to its 1080p HD Hero camera. This takes advantage of the bus connection that is being used for its new 3D Hero rig. It includes a built-in speaker and will allow users to see what shots they are framing and to playback their videos without transferring them to a computer - best photos I've seen of the LCD BacPac so far are on Engadget.
There will also be a Battery BacPac (costing under $40) that doubles the battery life and can also be used as a standalone battery charger. Both BacPacs require the fitting of a new back to the HD Hero's waterproof housing. GoPro is also likely to release other BacPac units in future – probably ones that duplicate the functions of Contour's latest development….
For aiming a camera that is fixed to somewhere that isn't easily viewable, the LCD BacPac might not make framing a shot any easier - although it will be useful for handheld use. However, it's rival, Contour, is adding remote live viewing to its range via a Bluetooth connection that will send the video to an iPhone/iPad or Android mobile – the apps to view it aren't available yet, but should be soon, with the iOS version appearing first. The Bluetooth connection can also be used for remote control.
"We're excited about turning a phone into a live screen for the ContourGPS and delivering the single feature nearly all of our customers have been asking for," said Marc Barros, Contour's CEO. "ContourGPS was already the first hands-free camera to introduce real-time GPS, bringing a whole new level of video storytelling to our customers around the world. But with the enabling of Bluetooth, ContourGPS becomes the only hands-free video camera with a wireless viewfinder."
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By David Fox