2014-07-09

Co.Labs

A Tiny Wearable Camera That Makes Photography Fun Again

The strawberry-sized Ca7ch Lightbox automatically syncs photos and video to the cloud.



Ca7ch founder and CEO Rom Eizenberg started thinking deeply about cameras after the birth of his son a little over two years ago.

"I discovered that new parents tend to be some of the most enthusiastic photographers," he says. "If not the parents, then the grandmothers who are pressuring from far away to take pictures."

It occurred to him that while people are still buying point-and-shoot cameras, they’re nowadays more likely to actually be using their cellphone cameras to take and share quick snapshots, instead of taking photos with a traditional point-and-shoot, transferring them to a computer and uploading them to cloud storage or a social network.

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So, when Ca7ch designed its Lightbox wearable camera, billed as "a camera fit for our times," it built it as a mobile phone accessory, not as a standalone unit.

"Lightbox works with your smartphone through built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, moving the camera’s storage to the cloud and letting you instantly connect with friends and followers," the company explains on the webpage for its successful Kickstarter campaign.

That is, Eizenberg says, the 1.5-inch square camera, which can be attached with a two-part magnetic clip to a shirt, hat, or other piece of clothing, captures video and still images to its internal memory, then automatically syncs them via Bluetooth or a home wireless connection to a companion smartphone app and the company’s cloud storage.

"The camera storage is the cloud," says Eizenberg. "As soon as it hits the phone, the app comes up and uploads the media to the cloud and clears the local phone memory." Once the images hit Ca7ch’s servers, user settings allow the images to be posted to a social site like Facebook, where they can be made public or shared with a custom group of users.

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The goal is to offer a simpler alternative to point-and-shoot cameras and even to older wearable cameras like those from GoPro. "GoPro is really really cool—we really love our GoPros," says Eizenberg, adding that they’re harder to mount and wear than the Lightbox.

"Building the Lightbox, there were really two key words we had in mind that kept coming up: simple and fun," he says. And one advantage to raising funds on Kickstarter is that Ca7ch has been able to get feedback from fans even before the first Lightbox cameras are set to ship this fall. The company already boosted the amount of onboard memory in response to customer requests, and Kickstarter backers have even debated features they’d like to see in later models, he says.

"One user says I would love to see a wider view angle," he says. "Other users jumped in and said yeah, but we don't want the lens to become big." The company’s also looking into making it easy to mount the camera on remote-controlled aircraft after getting inquiries, he says.

And as developers play with the Lightbox’s API, they’ll be able to build their own apps to help customers find new uses for the cameras, he says. "One of my friends is really into writing a baby monitor app," says Eizenberg, who’s himself been able to see the world through his 2-year-old son’s eyes by having the boy wear a Lightbox prototype. "The possibilities are really endless."

[Image: Flickr user Ron Frazier]




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