GoPro goes wireless, has the video to prove it
posted Monday, June 4, 2012 at 3:15 PM EST
Woodman Labs' popular GoPro HD Hero line of lightweight, rugged cameras have today gained a new capability that promises to take their "shoot anywhere" ethic to new levels.
Available immediately, the GoPro Wi-Fi BacPac allows any HD Hero 2 camera to be remotely controlled from an iOS 4 or Android 2.2+ smartphone or tablet. This includes not only the ability to remotely change settings, and start or stop video and image / burst capture, but also to see a live view stream from the camera, and to review your captured images and videos on the phone or tablet display.
Additionally, a wrist-mountable Wi-Fi Remote accessory is available in a kit with the Wi-Fi BacPac. This lets you control either an HD Hero or Hero 2 camera remotely including all settings, and also has a small LCD panel that mirrors that on the camera body. Both the Wi-Fi Remote accessory and the Wi-Fi BacPac (when using the provided backdoor panel with the GoPro's housing) are waterproof.
The Wi-Fi Remote accessory is wrist-mountable, and mirrors the camera body's display.
Photo provided by Woodman Labs.
Perhaps more impressive, though, is that the setup allows control of not just one GoPro, but up to fifty of them, and with a working range of up to 600 feet in optimal conditions. This provides an uncommonly affordable multi-camera remote setup, with list pricing for the cheapest GoPro model at around US$150, and the Wi-Fi BacPac listing at only $60. (A combo kit with the Wi-Fi Remote is around US$100.) All-in, you could manage a fifty camera setup for just a little over US$10,000 at list pricing. Even with a top-of-the-line HD Hero 2 model including camera mounts, a fifty camera setup with remote control of every camera would come in at US$18,000 list price.
Unfortunately, relatively little information is available on the unit's specifications. It isn't immediately clear what the battery life is, for example, nor how groups of cameras can be configured and controlled. Nor do we know how closely the cameras can be synchronized when triggered, something which would be important for Matrix-style multi-camera time freeze effects, or any other situation where simultaneous capture is crucial.
The Wi-Fi BacPac slots onto the GoPro's rear side, and comes bundled with two addon backdoor panels for the camera housing, one of which retains its waterproofing.
Photo provided by Woodman Labs.
Even as a single-camera setup though, the Wi-Fi BacPac really extends the GoPro's functionality. It will provide an even greater benefit for HD Hero 2 owners in the future, as support is also planned for live streaming via a connected device, from the GoPro camera. That opens up a world of possibilities for live event coverage that--while already achievable with other devices--might not be feasible due to their cost, or the lack of the GoPro's rugged, waterproof housing. (Imagine for example a surfer being able to stream tube ride footage live to their fans around the globe.)
To celebrate the debut of the GoPro Wi-Fi BacPac and Wi-Fi Remote Combo Kit, the company worked with skateboarders Ryan Sheckler and Erik Bragg to create a pretty impressive demonstration of the setup's capabilities in New York City:
More details can be found on the GoPro website.