Adventure Tech: GoPro Releases New Mid-Level Camera, Hints at Drone and VR in the Works

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It has been a busy week in terms of news from the folks at GoPro, the makers of the ubiquitous action camera that seems to be carried by just about everyone these days. Yesterday, the company released a new mid-level camera that helps lower the barrier for more people to use their devices, and last week CEO Nick Woodman announced that the company was working on building not only a drone, but a complete package for creating virtual reality films as well.

The new entry level camera is called the Hero+ LCD and as the name suggests, it comes equipped with a touch-screen LCD that provides users with the ability to make easy adjustments to the device’s settings and more easily view the footage that they are capturing. The camera is capable of shooting video in full 1080p resolutions at 60fps, and has both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity options too. It comes with a waterproof case that allows it to be submerged in up to 40 meters (131 feet) of water, and it has onboard editing for making basic cuts to the captured clips without needing a computer, tablet, or smartphone.

The new Hero+ LCD falls squarely between the entry-level Hero ($129), and the slightly more capable Hero4 Silver ($399). It is expected to go on sale June 7 – this Sunday – at a price of $299.

Perhaps even more interesting is the news that GoPro is working on creating a drone of their very own. The company’s cameras have been popular with the drone crowd over the past couple of years, but up until now it has been content to stay out of that market. That will change in 2016 however, which is when it will release a quadcopter model to consumers. The price and design of that drone are not yet known, but it is expected to be released in the first half of next year.

Woodman also told a crowd at the Code Conference in California last week that GoPro is diving headfirst into the burgeoning virtual reality market. With products like Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear VR coming to the market in the next few months, VR is expected to take off like never before. To meet that demand, GoPro is building a special housing that will allow filmmakers to use six cameras at once, capturing video in multiple directions. Specialized software will than be used to stitch the video together, creating a seamless VR environment. The new housing is expected to debut later this year at a price of between $1500 and $2000, which puts it out of reach for most consumers, but should appeal to the professionals using GoPro cameras already.

It is an exciting time for a company that has grown in leaps and bounds over the past few years. It seems evident that GoPro isn’t about to be left behind by new technology, and that they are working hard to maintain their crown as the leader in the action cam market.

Kraig Becker