The Little Camera That Could

go pro

Built for Adventure

While cameras are great at capturing a story for film and showcasing someone’s vision, they are not usually known for their durability and tend to be pretty fragile machines. It’s tough to take them under water, on a bike or car, or just any place where you’d be moving a lot and need something light and compact to get extreme footage. That was until the founding of GoPro and the introduction of their line of small, compact and reasonably-priced cameras that allow movie makers to go places they have never gone before. Over the last decade the GoPro has become the number one selling camera in the world, adored by both athletes as well documentary filmmakers for its versatility.

 GoPro Origins

The company’s founder, Nick Woodman, first got the idea when he was enjoying his passion for surfing 10 years ago. He wanted to capture video of himself and his friends on the waves but couldn’t with any current camera. So he built a limited-use wrist-mount camera and the tech became a hit with the surfing crowd. It wasn’t until he was enjoying his other hobby, racing cars, that he strapped on a GoPro to the roll bar of his car and realized the vast consumer appeal. Since then, the company has been turning out models year after year with the latest being the GoPro HD Hero3: Black Edition,  1080P video and still camera that can be controlled via a wi-fi remote.

helmet gopro

The Value of Fan Feedback

Not surprisingly the product has a loyal following, with users often posting videos and multi-media of their latest exploits on the company’s website and Facebook page. They want to show off what they capture with their cameras, and it is that word-of-mouth that makes these exciting and unique video clips popular. The company pays close attention to see how the average customer is using its  product and uses that as a way to anticipate what people would want. While the GoPros may not have the high resolution that many professional cameras do, they more than make up for it in other ways, such as cost.


Famous For Their Versatility

GoPros are relatively cheap, with the most expensive model costing a very moderate $400. This helps open up the camera to film hobbyists and weekend movie makers who want to dabble in the video realm but can’t really fully invest themselves in it. This is most definitely a good thing, because fresh ideas, and video that may not have been possible before, are popping up. We can, however, say from personal experience that many people in the professional video production community have made GoPros part of their arsenal. Companies have strapped them to the outside of cars, attached them to balloons and flying drones and put them on surf boards. For more information on GoPros, check out this recent article on Mashable



Red Bull Stratos – Leap of Faith

Felix the fearless Sub-astronaught, looks out from his capsul as Stratos prepares for launch.
Felix inside Red Bull Stratos Capsule

This time Red Bull has really taken the love of extreme sports promotion to the edge, of space! In an amazing combination of science and spectacle, Felix Baumgartner will risk life and limb to break two long standing records of human capability. 1st of all he will be free falling from 120,000 feet, higher than any person in the history of man’s desire to jump from high places. Possibly even more impressive is that he will attempt to break the speed of sound with his body, sometime that has never been done before and was long considered impossible by physicists and medical scientists.

Mission Stratos Prepares to Launch the High Altitude Balloon
Mission Stratos Prepares for Launch

Science on the Brink

A stratospheric balloon will deliver a single human passenger to the edge of space for a death defying mission of legendary proportions. The scientific implications of this mission reach far beyond just seeing how much adrenaline the human body can produce. The results of this historic test will help pave the way for future generations of space travelers.

Inside the Stratos Capsule - Felix Prepares for Launch
Inside The Stratos Capsule

Felix will attempt to prove once and for all that it is possible for a human to endure supersonic flight outside of an aircraft. It was once considered that there was an invisible “barrier” to objects traveling faster than the speed of sound. In actuality, there is no barrier, but as you approach the speed of sound, shock-waves build up from sound-waves colliding with each other. These shock-waves can cause serious damage to any craft attempting to cross the supersonic threshold.

Here is an excerpt from the Stratos website about the supersonic science at hand:

“The data gathered about the effects of supersonic freefall can provide valuable tools for researchers looking to develop safety procedures for the pilots and astronauts of today and tomorrow – and for future space tourists. Proof that a human can break the speed of sound in freefall could provide support for the development of sub-orbital bailout procedures that currently don’t exist. In noting that the Red Bull Stratos team will be capturing as much physiological and environmental data as possible, medical director Jon Clark says: ‘We try to anticipate as much as we can about supersonic speed, but we really don’t know, because nobody has done this before.’ “

Felix and Joe react to learning the mission must be delayed due to poor weather conditions.
United States Air Force Colonel Joseph Kittinger and Felix learning of the mission abort due to high wind conditions.

For a complete summary of the scientific implications of this event, read this article.

Red Bull – Mission Stratos

Red Bull gives you wings, and supersonic suborbital parachutes! The worlds biggest sponsor of extreme sports is really pushing the boundaries of science, technology, and adrenaline junkies lust for excitement. Beyond the scientific implications of this mission, its just flat out cool.

Red Bull Mission Stratos - Felix Baumgartner Prepares for Launch
Felix Baumgartner Prepares for mission launch! Click the image for his biography.

The launch today was cancelled because of dangerous wind conditions, but I am sure within the next week the launch will go successfully and Felix will make the proverbial leap. If you want to know more about Mission Stratos, check out Red Bulls extensive website about their project.