Geco: a tiny SA-designed action cam

South Africans have taken to Indiegogo to fund their action video camera

November 8, 2013
Geco Mark II prototype Indiegogo

A group of young South African technology enthusiasts have launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to raise the money they need to bring their small, light “action cam” to market.

Established action cam brands such as GoPro already offer very compact 1080p HD-capable video cameras, but the team behind Geco believe it’s worth going smaller, and cheaper.

Prinesh Naidoo, Mishka Naidoo, and Dhiren Tahilram who make up the Geco team claim that the “Geco Mark II” is the world’s smallest action cam and can be mounted to any pair of glasses.

“Currently the Replay XD720 claims to be the worlds smallest action cam and weighs about 30 grams,” said Prinesh Naidoo, chief technical officer of Geco Action Cam. “Our product, however, weighs in at just under 18 grams.”

The team promises “Early bird” backers that they will receive a Geco Mark II if they pledge $80, with the price going up to $100 after the first 1,000 have been claimed.

They are also offering packs of 2 and 10 devices where the Gecos cost $80 each. International shipping is also offered at $10 per unit.

The trio opted for a fixed funding campaign, which means that if they don’t raise all of their $60,000 goal by 16 December 2013, their campaign will receive none of the money contributed and backers will be refunded.

Specifications and trade-offs

In addition to telling some of the story behind the development of the Geco, the Indiegogo page also lists some of the key specifications of the device:

  • Viewing angle: 62 degrees
  • Resolution: 720p @ 30 frames per second
  • Video format: .mov
  • Video encoding: H.264
  • Battery: 300mAh Lithium Polymer, offering approximately 60 minutes of recording time
  • Memory Type: Removable microSD, class 4 or above
  • Connectivity: USB

While not mentioned in the spec sheets, Naidoo said that the Geco records audio as well.

As one might imagine, some trade-offs are required to squeeze a video camera into a lightweight case that can be mounted comfortably to a pair of glasses, while offering it relatively cheaply.

Among them is the fact that the Geco will support 720p video recording at 30 frames per second (FPS), while other action cams can offer up to 1080p recording at higher framerates.

Asked for more detailed specifications and information about the components they will be using, Naidoo said the main components are the SDRAM, image sensor and processor.

He said that the Geco will have 512MB of DDR2 SDRAM sourced from the South Korean memory company, Hynix.

Taiwanese microelectronics firm Novatek will supply the Geco’s processor, while Omnivision will provide the image sensor, Naidoo said.

Queried about the aperture specifications of the lens, Naidoo said that the maximum aperture of the lens is F2.4.

He also told MyBroadband that their waterproof housing for the Geco is rated for up to 1m and will be manufactured by a Chinese company which specialises in manufacturing action camera cases.

“We worked with a [original equipment manufacturer] specialist to source all the components for our camera and because of the cost benefit we will be getting the product assembled in China,” Naidoo said.

Geco Mark II elastic mount for glasses

Geco Mark II elastic mount for glasses

H.264 patents

When asked about potential issues surrounding patents on the H.264 encoding standard, Naidoo said that it is a controversial matter.

“Camera manufacturers get away with it by stating that the footage needs to licensed if used for commercial purposes,” he said.

He added that there is light at the end of the tunnel, however, as Cisco is trying to make H.264 free for online use.

Why Indiegogo?

Asked why they chose Indiegogo for their crowdfunding campaign, Naidoo said that the wanted to go with Kickstarter initially as it has greater traffic.

However, they soon found out that creators in South Africa are not eligible to start Kickstarter projects, Naidoo said.

He added that they also wanted as much exposure to the international stage as possible, and therefore decided that a local crowdfunding site would not be ideal.

Mishka Naidoo with Geco Mark II

Mishka Naidoo with Geco Mark II

Availability

On their Indiegogo page the trio explain that to make the Geco a reality they need to hit the minimum order quantity required by their component suppliers.

Once they have the funds, Naidoo said they will be able to manufacture and ship their first batch of Geco Mark II cameras within the span of two months.

“We expect to start shipping late February 2014 and will hopefully get the products in our backers hands by March,” Naidoo said.

More action camera and crowdfunding news

Sony wants a go at GoPro in South Africa

SEC to release crowdfunding rules

Ubuntu Edge: record breaking concept phone

SA-based projects funded on Kickstarter

StartMe: Kickstarter clone for SA scoped out

Tags: Dhiren Tahilram, Geco, Headline, Indiegogo, Mishka Naidoo, Prinesh Naidoo

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