Friday, October 8, 2010

New Vidcam Gadgets: Cool, But Useful?

For video gadgeteers, here are a couple new toys in search of a use that justifies their expense.

The first is the Steadicam Smoothee (top right) for your smartphone or Flip vidcam, that's bigger and more expensive than the device itself. It's a handheld mini-version of the rigs used in Hollywood to eliminate the shakes from tracking shots, for a fraction of the price -- $180 instead of $60,000. It's not available til December, so meanwhile see what the New York Times Gadgetwise blog has to say.

The second is a hands-free camcorder called the Looxcie (bottom right) that clips over your ear, and records what you see while you're walking (or rock climbing, or whatever), and then enables you to share footage via email or social network sites through your smartphone. The Times' Gadgetwise blog gave it a bemused spin around the neighborhood (see video below), and happily reported that the glowing ear appendage didn't attract the anticipated unwanted attention from passersby, but complained that the 480x320 resolution was too low to justify the $199 pricetag.

What possible scenarios would warrant posting your unedited mobile world view for the world to see? A Facebook commenter proposed strapping the device to a pet -- so brace yourself for the inevitable YouTube follies.


On a far more serious note, a moving Time magazine video, Amnesia and a Camera: Photos as Memories, illustrates a useful purpose for a device attached to a person -- in this case a woman whose encephalitis robbed her of thirty years of memory. She doesn't even recognize her own husband and four kids. As the protagonist in Memento takes Polaroids to ID faces he'd otherwise forget, Claire Robertson "captures memories of daily life through thousands of images a Sensecam on her chest takes daily."

She can't recapture old memories, but can help preserve new ones. While the video doesn't provide any "big picture" assessment of how prevalent this condition is, or what her prognosis is, it does provide perspective on the impact of imagery in all our lives...

The video story is conceived and directed by Lauren Fleishman, produced by Paul Moakley, and edited by Bryan Chang.

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