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Robot Camera Foreshadows an Era of Location-Aware Electronics

A French company called Move 'N See produces a line of camera robots. Their devices act as a smart tripod, holding a video camera and automatically moving and zooming the camera as people of interest move around a site.

The idea is simple but amazingly innovative. Photo selfies are easy to take, but video selfies are next to impossible. How can I video myself playing football or doing gymnastics, without setting the camera so far back as to be useless? Do spectators want to spend an entire sporting event carefully videoing their friend or relative moving around the field?

Enter Move 'N See's "personal robot cameramen." Their devices aim, pan and zoom a video camera as one or more people move around an area. The people of interest wear armbands whose locations are tracked, enabling the camera controller to know where to aim the camera. The camera controller also includes enough smarts to adjust the camera smoothly and to capture multiple people evenly. The armbands also have buttons that give a certain level of control to the person being filmed.

In short, Move 'N See's products enable selfie action videos.

Move 'N See's first product, called E-FULLMOTION, was designed for use outside. E-FULLMOTION's armbands include GPS receivers to track their location and send location updates wirelessly to the camera controller. But E-FULLMOTION only works outside, where GPS reception is available. How could such a product be developed to work indoors?

Enter Move 'N See's second product, Pixio. Pixio uses indoor location technology, in the form of UWB chips from DecaWave, to track armband locations indoors. UWB enables the Pixio camera controller to know where the armbands are to within 10cm, in real-time. UWB also uses much less battery power than GPS, and provides a wireless communications channel to communicate when players press buttons on their armbands. At the end of this article you'll see a great video that Move 'N See made of Pixio in action.

Pixio looks like a great product - incorporating indoor location technology to do something important for people. The technology is great, but the product is about video, not about technology. Pixio can be used to film not only sports but performing arts, conferences, children at play, and much more.

EVEN MORE EXCITING is the trend that is foreshadowed by Pixio. Grizzly Analytics believes that 2016 will be the year of location-aware electronics. Indoor location technologies are available in chip form, with high accuracy and low power consumption, designed and packaged for easy integration into electronic products. These products can be cutting edge, such as home robots, drones, smart homes or Internet of Things devices, or they can be smarter versions of routine products like cameras.

A new report from Grizzly Analytics analyzes chip-based indoor location technologies from 19 companies, including 10 that are delivering chips or components that incorporate indoor location into electronic products and devices.

Pixio is not the first location-aware electronic product on the market. For example, there are numerous products on the market that enable you to find your keys and wallets. (Here's one that we saw a while back.) But only now is location technology entering general-use products such as cameras.

As location chips become easier and easier to integrate into electronics, the sky's the limit for products that can work smarter and better using location awareness. Grizzly Analytics believes that 2016 will be the year in which location-aware electronic products make a huge splash in the market.

So if you are in the electronics business, you might want to take a look at chip-based location technologies and consider how you can use them. If you're not in the electronics business, you still might want to keep your eye on location technologies and the changes they're bringing. They're not just for tech products anymore....

Finally, check out this video of Pixio in action....

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