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Technology Untangled: GoPro action cam for work and summer fun

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technology-bourThe summer vacation season is upon us, so today’s article will review a camera that you may find both useful and fun for your summer adventures. This camera is also useful for video documentation functions at work. It provides a superior video to the typical cell phone.

The GoPro HERO3 White Edition action camera impressed me as a versatile, capable, high-quality camera for the recording of most any activity, including water sports. If you have ever watched YouTube videos of people engaging in high-action sporting adventures such as skydiving, skateboarding and the like, you have probably seen footage from a GoPro action camera. Many of the reality TV shows on cable also make use of these exceptional cameras.

I have been aware of these cameras for quite a while, but always assumed they were more expensive. The basic White Edition camera retails for $200. There are also several more expensive versions with a few more features, but even the basic model uses the same sharp, ultra wide-angle lens as the high-end models. It records that wide view at 720p, HD quality at up to 60 frames per second, which is twice the frame rate of broadcast television. The recordings are surprisingly stable and are not prone to the jittery, shaky-camera effect that often is seen when using a regular video camera in a dynamic situation.

The camera is small, less than half the size of a deck of cards. It weighs only 2.6 ounces. For most purposes though, it is housed in the included waterproof polycarbonate case. This adds some bulk, but still allows the camera to fit easily in the palm of your hand. The case includes an interface bracket that facilitates mounting of the camera on virtually anything or anybody.

For my working purpose, that “anybody” was the actual driver of a vehicle that was previously involved in an accident. The attorney’s desire was to depict as accurately as possible what the driver could or could not see when approaching the intersection in question. I mounted the GoPro camera to the driver’s forehead with an elastic head strap mount. This is when the ultra wide-angle view of the lens showed its usefulness. The view we recorded out the windshield was from pillar to pillar, and slightly beyond, including both of the side view mirrors. The distortion at the edges of the frame was minimal.

And how did I know we had a good shot? The GoPro HERO3 is Wi-Fi capable. I was able to beam a video preview directly to my iPad in real time to make sure the camera angle was good. The GoPro Wi-Fi app is free and is available for both iPad and Android tablets and smartphones. In addition, you can also remotely turn on and off the recording from the iPad. I do, however, have one complaint about a feature missing from this app. It does not include the ability to review footage recorded to the memory card; it strictly provides a real time preview. In order to view your recordings on site, you have to connect the camera via USB to a computer or insert the camera’s memory card into a computer. Another method for after-the-fact viewing of your footage is through use of an accessory micro HDMI cable tethered directly to a high-definition TV.

If you prefer to have a more traditional LCD touch screen as part of your camera, GoPro offers that as an $80 accessory. It attaches directly to the back of the camera, increasing the overall thickness but providing full preview and playback capability.

A memory card is not included with the camera and must be purchased separately. I was glad to learn that you do not need the more expensive Class 10 high-speed microSD cards in order to capture high-definition video. You can use any standard microSD card from 4GB to 64GB. The video recording time that fits on a 16GB chip is about 3-and-a-half hours at 720p, 30 frames per second.

Several sticky-backed mounting brackets are included, one for flat surfaces and one for curved surfaces. GoPro offers a wide variety of other mounts such as suction cups, tripod mounts, chest, wrist, bike and helmet mounts, and, of course, a surfboard mount. The waterproof housing says it is rated to a depth of 197 feet.

For recreational purposes, the uses for the camera are obvious. For work situations, I could see it being quite useful for documentation of accident scenes, crime scenes or insurance claim reviews. I imagine it being used with a head mount as an auxiliary recording device during the normal course of photographing and videotaping evidence for any legal matter.

Consider a GoPro HERO3 camera for this summer’s vacation, and then put it to use at work. I will be anxious to see who sends me the first action clip from their surfboard.•

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Stephen Bour (bourtech@iquest.net) is an engineer and legal technology consultant in Indianapolis. His company, the Alliance for Litigation Support Inc., includes Bour Technical Services and Alliance Court Reporting. Areas of service include legal videography, tape analysis, document scanning to CD and courtroom presentation support. The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author.
 

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  1. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  2. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  3. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

  4. Why in the world would someone need a person to correct a transcript when a realtime court reporter could provide them with a transcript (rough draft) immediately?

  5. This article proved very enlightening. Right ahead of sitting the LSAT for the first time, I felt a sense of relief that a score of 141 was admitted to an Indiana Law School and did well under unique circumstances. While my GPA is currently 3.91 I fear standardized testing and hope that I too will get a good enough grade for acceptance here at home. Thanks so much for this informative post.

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