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Apple has been awarded a patent by the USPTO based on IP it acquired from the now defunct Eastman Kodak in a deal from 2013. The patent details a remote digital camera system that can be controlled from a smartwatch.
The patent is a threat to GoPro which has, since its 2004 launch, dominated the action camera market. There have been other attempts at challenging GoPro, including the ISaw A3 Extreme action camera, which we reviewed on our sister site Gearburn, but the GoPro has managed to shake off that competition. However, in Apple, GoPro is facing a mega million company that could easily invest and make a brilliant camera.
It has not taken long for GoPro to feel the competition. As soon as the news that Apple had acquired the patent for the remote-control camera system were published, GoPro Inc shares plummeted 12%, its sharpest decline since August. The stock dropped to US$49.87 at the close of day in New York.
The Apple patent specifically seeks to address shortcomings identified in the design of competitors, especially its GoPro HD hero3 cameras. The patent claims that current cameras in the market are influenced by wind that affects final image output.
The patent bears Kodak’s branding on technical drawings representing the system it describes. The camera, the patent describes, will work with a system with multiple camera sensors to cover multiple angles, and to provide coverage in multiple directions. The camera, like the GoPro, includes multiple mounting points, which can be used with tripods and other accessories, to enable it to be used both handheld by a user like a normal camera, and also to be mounted in any number of configurations on different devices, like cars, handlebars, jibs, and more.
Though the Apple patent attempts to differentiate itself from other cameras like it by offering users a range of choices as to how to shoot with the device the camera patent remains similar to your average GoPro. The differentiation includes the fact that it can be remotely controlled by a wrist-mounted control device, which can also provide it with updated information in real-time. The remote also features a low-power mode for stand operation while conserving battery.
It is not clear when the Apple camera will hit the market (if it ever does) but on paper, the Apple camera appears to be a strong competition for GoPro, and for a camera that has not really had competition, it is not far-fetched to conclude that GoPro will have to solidify its position in the very market it created.