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The portable action camera market has been forecast to reach a grand total of 9 million units shifted by 2018. Consulting company Futuresource also states that the US and the UK will collectively hold about 46% of the overall market. What we can learn from this immediately is that this sector is growing on a worldwide basis.

What it doesn’t tell us is in what way it’s going to grow. What sort of features are we likely to see?

We’re going to take a look at what the future holds for the portable action camera. Keep reading to find out more.

 

What are the Latest Products Available Today?

 Here’s a brief list of some of the market leaders:

  1. GoPro Hero4 Black

 This is GoPro’s main model, which we already reviewed a few times. Features include full 4K/slow motion HD video and conventional 1080p full HD capabilities.

Gopro Hero 4 - Source: gabitul/Flickr

Gopro Hero 4 – Source: gabitul/Flickr

 

2. Garmin VIRB Elite

 Using a slide-and-switch stop and start system, the Garmin comes with a GoPro adapter to work alongside GoPro branded items. It also comes with editing software usable on the PC and Mac.

 

3. Drift Ghost-S

 If you’re looking for something extra durable, this is the camera you choose. It uses a sturdy mount design to withstand the elements. Users also benefit from Wi-Fi connectivity and the small screen.

 

4. Sony A21 VR

 Sony’s offering in the action camera market doesn’t come with a body or a screen. It comes with a wrist remote and the option to use LiveView.

It has far more control options and is an ideal option for reaching difficult areas, or where a helmet-mounted camera would be impractical.

 

5. iON Air Pro 3

 The bullet cam brought by the iON Air Pro 3 has made it a popular choice for cyclists. Vibration and special LED lights inform you when recording has stopped or started.

You can check our in-depth evaluation and comparison of these cameras, and decide for yourself which fits your need better.

 

An Increase in Vendors

One of the key changes we’re going to see is more choice. Every analyst believes GoPro will maintain its position at the top of the tree. However, what they’re also predicting is their market share will drop, along with all the other prominent vendors.

This is because the market is diversifying. It’s welcoming more vendors into the market. Minor vendors are going to play a bigger role, and hopefully this will spur innovation. Here are just a few of the smaller vendors expected to have a place in the world of tomorrow:

  • Chilli Technology – no-name for little value but very cheap
  • Liquid Image – They are interesting as amazingly cheap and wifi enabled. doesn’t make them perfect though, they have limited functionality and usability issues.
  • Oregon Scientific – started as weather stations, they are evolving into light action cameras.

I wouldn’t spend too much time checking them out at the moment, until their credibility and quality is better tested.

Apple is the Future?

 GoPro’s stocks were sent into a 12% nosedive on January 13th, 2015, when Apple was granted a patent for a wrist-controlled portable action camera. This was the corporation’s first real venture into the industry, and it’s led to fears that it’s going to successfully snatch the action camera away from GoPro.

Here’s what the patent gives Apple:

  • Wrist-controlled camera
  • Underwater-shooting capabilities
  • Multiple lenses
  • Special mounting capabilities, such as on dog harnesses and handlebars.

 

https://cdn3.pcadvisor.co.uk/cmsdata/features/3606351/Apple_Watch_thumb.png

It probably means they will use the Apple Watch (or similar?) to control their future action camera.

A False Dawn

 While these features sound cool, we have to remember that this doesn’t necessarily mean we’re going to see these innovations anytime soon. Jan Dawson from JackDaw Research states that Apple has historically picked up many patents years in advance of using them, assuming they do at all.

The issue here is that the big player to challenge GoPro doesn’t have a logical extension into portable action cameras. There’s little connection between the iPad/iPhone and portable action cameras. In any case let’s watch this space, this is going to be interesting!

 

The Drone Drive

 The Guardian newspaper conducted tests on drones we will discuss what they found below.

What they found was that of the four they tested, the Hubsan FPV Mini Quadcopter and the DJI Phantom FC40 had the old-fashioned twitchy controls. On the other hand, the Parrot AR Drone 2.0 Quadricopter was of a new generation of drones that anyone can use.

Overall, the increasing ease of which drones can be controlled is opening a new generation of portable action cameras that are accessible to all.

 

drones - Shoot from the sky! Source: David Rodriguez Martin / Flickr

drones – Shoot from the sky!
Source: David Rodriguez Martin / Flickr

 

More Resolution Better – a dive into UHD and 8K

 This is no surprise to see. A bigger resolution and better video is the bread and butter of advancement within the world of action cameras.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the newest camera called the GoPro Hero5. While (as of May 2015) the release date has been pushed back another few months, analysts generally agree that we can expect the following:

  • 8k resolution
  • 60 FPS videos, with the promise of up to 240fps at lower resolution – slow-motion videos, here we come!

In short, the boundaries are being pushed every single time. This is a recipe for success, and even if many computers and laptops are unable to view videos to this level of quality, the customer base likely to use these cameras expect only the best.

Nevertheless, home computer technology will soon catch up. Even if it’s difficult to utilise the potential now, it’s inevitable that this will change as we continue to move forward.

 

Up and Down

 The Kitvision Edge HD10 is one camera designed specifically for use in extreme sports. It can dive down as deep as 100 metres and withstand the elements up to a maximum height of 15,000m above sea level.

What we should expect to see is these boundaries will widen over time. Especially the advent of hobby-enabled stratospheric balloons, brings the sky a bit closer to us, and if 15,000 metres is already quite high, for these applications the camera needs to withstand even more extremes temperatures and vacuum.

Durability is another problem. It’s difficult to make something that’s so lightweight that can still work with a camera. Nevertheless,there’s still a way to go. We can Expect as well Gopro to align to these specs, with the added bonus of a very reliable and tested camera.

 

that sure is a cool helmet. Source: Wei-feng Xue/ Flickr

that sure is a cool helmet. Source: Wei-feng Xue/ Flickr

 

 More Wearable Technology

 Apple’s patent demonstrates a further need to invest in wearable technology. The public is getting more and more interested in it. We can see this from the popularity of the range of Apple watches.

While there are currently no solid plans for wearable technology, there’s no doubt Apple’s patent encouraged the other manufacturers to begin investing in this type of technology. They know it’s the future.

When we think about it, it’s the only course of action. Many people surfing, diving, jumping out of planes and bungee jumping, would love to wear their technology elsewhere on their body. It would offer different perspectives and perhaps a more accurate documentation of what’s going on.

Anyone who doesn’t yet see this should take a look at Google’s range of eyewear.

The Google Glass concept is not yet over, expect to see consumer applications in the near future. Source: Oll Raqwe/ Flickr

The Google Glass concept is not yet over, expect to see consumer applications in the near future. Source: Oll Raqwe/ Flickr

 

The Impact of Smartphones

 One of the big influencers of tomorrow is the smartphone. TechNavo states that the growth of the smartphone is an inhibitor of the portable action camera. In a recent paper, they stated that the declining cost of the smartphone and the improving camera capabilities are hurting portable action camera growth.

Smartphone prices continue to decrease, because of the activities of companies like Samsung. Furthermore, camera quality improves each year. In many cases, smartphone cameras are competing on the same level as cheaper cameras.

It’s inevitable that technology will continue to improve and we will soon see smartphones reach the same level as cameras.

The difficulty the portable action camera market has is improving their cameras at the same rate. At the same time, when they improve they have to ensure that the price doesn’t shoot up, otherwise they’ll alienate a significant portion of their market.

The portable action camera market’s smartphone challenge is a serious issue they will have to find a solution to in the coming years.

 

Is it likely to happen, though?

In terms of the person competing in extreme sports, the answer is no. A smartphone will never be a decent alternative to a portable action camera.

However, most of the market isn’t made up of skydivers and bungee jumpers. They’re normal people looking to create movie-quality productions. In addition,the smartphone market is targeting these people.

 

So What is the Future of Portable Action Cameras?

 Phew, this was a long post and featured a lot of information. Let’s sum everything up so we know where we are.

The big story is that Apple has attempted to wade in to this industry. It doesn’t mean they will actually make something, but they’ve got the patent, so the clock is ticking and it has everyone else on edge.

This monopoly is in no way damaging to innovation, though. The primary future for portable action cameras boils down to:

  • Better quality videos
  • Wearable technology
  • Pushing environmental boundaries

We may see improvements to video editing software (aside from cameras), but that has nothing to do with the camera itself.

One interesting development is that portable action cameras are advancing as quickly as smartphones. There’s no doubt we could reach an era where we’re seeing brand new models every few months.

In addition, this could mean we see these cameras competing with smartphones. Pricing is a real issue and if people are unable to afford the more newermodels or their smartphones are just as good, this could be a real threat to the existence of the industry.

We’re in a golden age of the portable action camera right now, let’s cherish it and make the most of it!

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Comments

  1. Bill says

    Future 360 degree video cameras may offer some competition. The current crop has poor resolution compared to most portable action cameras. But the 360 degree cameras in the future may close that gap. Even GoPro is trying to get in the 360 game using an array of their cameras. So they must see some future impact in the market.

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