Google among companies to give GoPro a go

Tech giants jump into the consumer video-cam market

Search engine giant Google, which has entered the mobile phone and the tablet computer market, not to mention about a dozen other arenas in the high technology space, offered an impressive live streaming video stunt at its recent I/O Developer Conference last month in San Francisco.

It wasn’t what happened in the Moscone Center that made the big splash, it was the demonstration of Project Glass that occurred as skydivers jumped from a zeppelin and took part in a Google+ online video chat — while diving down into San Francisco. This was accomplished via the special glasses that are at the core of Project Glass.

“You don't need a Google Glass product to do that. You could use a GoPro camera,” Jeremiah Owyang, consumer electronics industry analyst for the Altimeter Group, told BikeRadar.

So the next question is whether Google Glass should be a worry for GoPro and the other wearable camera makers?

“I hadn’t given the idea of using Google Glass in extreme sports much thought,” said Charles King, principal analyst of Punt-It, a firm specializing in technology. “But it seems like the sort of market the technology would be perfect for. The key here is whether developers feel the same way.”

The big component in this is that GoPro has captured a market with an affordable and easy to use camera. This allows people to capture their personal thrills and spills. In the latter case, the wearable camera could be used to record moments many would probably rather forget.

But GoPro wasn’t actually the first. Several companies over the years have attempted to create wearable sports cameras, including consumer electronics giant Samsung, which introduced the SCX105L MPEG4 Sports Camcorder w/10x Optical Zoom way back in 2005.

In the world of electronics, that’s an eon ago.

GoPro, which was founded only three years earlier by Nick Woodman, who was reportedly inspired to create a wearable camera while surfing in Australia, entered the market by storm and provides cameras that can produce HD (high definition) and 3D content – the latter requiring two cameras.

Woodman had a very clear vision in mind with GoPro, and that was the sports market. Google, which as noted is involved in a multitude of projects – not all of which even see it all the way to market – isn’t so focused. Whether Google Glass makes it to the extreme sports arena depends on the developers.

King told BikeRadar that one of the most clever points about the Google Glass launch was its developer focus, which suggests that "Google understands the value of providing an innovative technology to smart people and standing back to see what they do.”

“Rather than immediately being adopted by a wide swath of consumers, I expect instead to see Google Glass-based solutions seeding a wide variety of markets, including extreme sports,” added King.

However, the wild card is that while Samsung never followed through with a wearable HD market, other camcorder makers likely will look to do so.

In the past month Sony and JVC – two of the leading players in video cameras dating back to the days of VHS and even Betamax see this burgeoning market.

JVC announced its GC-XA1 ADIXXION pocket-sized camera that is freeze-proof, dust-proof and even waterproof to five meters, while being shockproof (meaning you can drop it) to two meters. The company has already announced a number of accessories including mounts for handlebars, helmets and goggles.

Sony meanwhile offered just a preview of its wearable HD camcorder that will feature SteadyShot image stabilization and Carl Zeiss Tessar lens, both of which could make watching YouTube videos a little easier.

And for those looking to record their potential triumphs — and perhaps stream them live to the world — the market is only going to grow.

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