Action Camera: Tech Flash
Action Camera: The Technology
In this addition of Tech Flash, we are diving deep into the world of the action camera. Small, sleek and durable, the action camera has revolutionized how people shoot video in an on-demand world. From skiers to snowboarders to hikers, these little cameras are capturing all the sights and scenes as a ride along companion. Though they have become a mainstay to many adventure sports, one still wonders about the the staying power of the action camera. The trend today is strong, but is there any reason to believe that this technology may be rendered obsolete in the future? 3…2…1…Action!
The Father of the Action Camera: GoPro
One of the most noticeable, if not the most noticeable, brand in this space is GoPro. According to Global Market Insights, GoPro had a whopping 45% of the action camera market in 2015! Talk about brand domination in a growing space. Created in 2002 by action/adventurer enthusiast Nick Woodman, these pocket-sized video cameras were design to go anywhere and capture once in a lifetime footage. And when I say anywhere, I mean anywhere. Surfing, snowboarding, snorkeling… there are very few places that this technology cannot go.
An affordable and portable action camera capable of high resolution video was extremely revolutionary for its time. If you know anything about electronics, you’re aware that things like water or vibration wreak havoc on their ability to perform. But the action camera was designed to take a beating, while protecting against the elements like water, sand, or dirt. Action seekers took notice of this potential. A big consumer market then began to develop and the action camera was soon flying off the shelves.
As demand grew, innovation followed suit. Capacity on cameras increased, as did the resolution and recording capabilities. Currently, these cameras have a variety of styles and features that fit almost any sport or budget. Other bells and whistles such as GPS tracking and cloud capability are making it easier to organize and share files. All this leads to a stronger position going forward for the technology. Let’s further evaluate the pros and cons of this technology.
Action Camera: Why it stays
The action camera business is a fast growing market, with no signs of slowing. With the advent of 4K video and expanded storage (both physical and the cloud), there seems to be a renewed interest in personal video hardware. Couple those options with portability and affordability, and you have yourselves the makings of a very successful business model.
It’s a me first world we live in. If we are being honest: ever since the first selfie was shot and shared, our society demanded the ability to capture and distribute their life stories. Love it or hate it, there is high demand in this market. The action camera is a perfect solution to this desire. People are constantly curious as to what is going on in the lives of others. You could argue whether or not the Facebook’s and YouTube’s of the world are good for society, but there’s no debating their popularity. With the action camera, folks can now capture, in super detail, a hike through the Himalayas or a trek up to Machu Picchu.
From there, the ability to upload to the cloud and share via one of many social avenues provides folks a platform to distribute their experiences with family and friends. Personally, I believe this demand will continue to be strong. People will always have some interest in the lives of others, and people will always have interest to share those experiences. The action camera provides the sidekick to help share that story with a broader audience.
While the market for the action camera continues to stay strong, the products should only get better. Although GoPro has a commanding hold on the market, many other competitors will continue to flock to the space because there is money to be made. The technology will benefit as businesses grapple for more market-share through increased research and development spending. The action camera has already grown leaps and bounds since its inception in 2002. It’s mind-boggling how good some of these stabilization systems now are on these cameras. Some of these gimbals are expensive to be sure, but some may argue the return is completely worth it. That goes double for recreating a once in a lifetime ski or bike ride.
Additionally, the resolution and megapixel features of these cameras is on par with some film studio cameras. It’s hard to overemphasize how impressive it is that these little cameras can shoot the type of video they do. The processors and software currently utilized have become incredibly advanced. Engineers have only recently begun to unearth some of that potential with updated designs to the action camera.
Part of these updated designs also include increased storage capacity for file saving. Cloud storage has been a key enabler to such high resolution, portable cameras. Where before, a SD card may fill up almost immediately with 4K video, the cloud allows those files to be offloaded instantly. This, in turn, grants you more time on camera. In short, people are receiving a maturing product for high definition videoing at a very affordable price.
Action Camera: Why it fades
The one feature not mentioned when talking about the action camera is its limited battery life. With all smart devices, tablets or computers these days, battery life is near the top of the demand list. And while lithium ion batteries have improved greatly over the years, they still are a snag for many consumers when it comes to electronics. The action camera falls victim to this same limitation.
I need an outlet!
Depending on the action camera, battery life can range anywhere from 1 to 2 hours, assuming mostly high resolution video usage (think 1080P HD type video). This is before mentioning 4K video resolution, which will easily eat into that battery life because of its demand for resources. And while spare batteries can be brought to keep the action going, it’s certainly a limitation that will deter a portion of the market that wishes to avoid such maintenance. Over time, this could hurt the overall market. Although, it’s possible to argue that such a limitation is already widely known in the electronics industry. And, thus, batteries may not have a tremendous impact on the action camera bottom line.
While battery life might impact the some of the demand for the action camera, companies like GoPro have to continue to also look out for competitors. Products like the iPhone are already being used to shoot similar action videos. Much like the fitness tracker, the action camera stands to suffer from other highly integrated products that feature its core technology. Said another way, items like the smart phone can already perform many of the functions of a standalone action camera. However, the difference between this and the fitness tracker is the fact that smart phones may never fully achieve what the action camera can provide. The smart phone may have the ability to shoot action film, but products from, say, GoPro are specifically tailored to give a superior experience in action video. Therefore, even increased competition may not deter the overall staying power of the action camera technology.
Action Camera Takeaway
With all this information, I think it’s clear we can make a call on the action camera and whether or not it is simply a trend in our society today. The technology has come a long way since its creation, with enhanced resolution and durability. It has also become a go-to for sports enthusiasts everywhere who are itching to capture their experiences on intimate levels.
While drawbacks such as battery life may limit complete acceptance of the technology, I think it’s clear that the action camera isn’t going anywhere. There will continue to be a market for standalone devices to capture high resolution video, though competition from smart phones could take market share in the future. Regardless, the technology will continue to be prevalent no matter what. The question will become whether or not people believe its worth a stand alone device for their activities. If nothing else, sales have proven to this point that there is a niche market for this technology. As such, this technology will continue to mature as demand increases, keeping the action camera around for a very long time.
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