Was a low-cost version of the MoVi camera stabilizer developed years ago by another inventor?


posted Friday, April 5, 2013 at 6:09 PM EDT


We were all pretty impressed with the gyro-based, handheld camera stabilizer known as MōVi unveiled this morning by photographer / cinematographer Vincent Laforet. The device, invented by Tad Firchau of Freefly Systems in Seattle, WA, offers a virtually unshakeable rig for shooting smooth video footage with a DSLR or video camera even when running, jumping, walking down steps, or roller blading.

The one gripe we've heard from readers is that while the MōVi technology does seem to live up to the "game changer" status touted by Laforet, the $15K price tag is pretty steep for most people. No doubt, inventors all over the world are at work right now trying to create a lower cost version of MōVi that might appeal to the masses. And, in fact, someone seems to have already done it: three years ago.

ISO 1200 has dug up the below video from March 2010 of an invention by Adam Sidman, which is "a low cost, compact gyro-based servo stabilization device for a professional handheld motion picture camera." As you can see from the video, the gizmo looks very similar to the MōVi.

"This device uses MEMS based rate gyro sensors mounted to a gimbaled camera rig to measure the angular rate of the camera's rotation," Sidman says in describing the invention in the video. "The gyro signals are amplified to drive DC servo motors coupled to the camera's rotational axes. As a gyro measures the cameras rotation about an axis, the corresponding servo motor applies an opposing torque on the platform to oppose camera rotation."

The "[h]andheld, multi-axis camera stabilization device utilizing MEMS gyro sensors (stabilizer)" was patented (U.S. Patent 7,642,741) with additional patents pending at the time.

We haven't been able to get in touch with Sidman or the folks behind MōVi but will post a follow-up when when we've heard from them. Meanwhile, check out the rather geeky, video below demonstrating Sidman's intriguing device.