Vuact Action Capture – Data Meets Video (Canceled)
Vuact Action Capture records video and sensor data and puts the data on the video timeline. You get insight into your performance.
"It’s a completely new way of processing long video footage and allows you to snatch the golden cherries on top just by fast forwarding to the displayed action peaks."
How it all came about...
(Story from Kalle, Vuact's co-founder) A while ago on a bike ride, we stopped to eat some blueberries (yes, while mountain biking). It was a hot sunny day, the moss blanket was comfy and there were plenty of berries under the leaves. We sat for a while, and I half acknowledged a few wasps around us. Then a few more. And more. Until we suddenly realized we were sitting on a wasp nest. Instantly, panic took over both us and the wasps. We were running like mad with the yellow jackets stinging us left and right. When we finally stopped a good five hundred yards later, there were still a number of them hanging on our clothes.
Makes a good story but it would have been even better if it had been captured on video. Not that all of the mountain biking trips are always that eventful but you just can't recreate the crazy afterwards. And you typically don't want to go over hours of video just to find those exhilarating moments.
Meanwhile, we had already been working with video for years before we founded Vuact, a startup aimed to change video viewing experience with audience insights. "Great idea", everybody said but the only problem was the big video producers didn't really care about audience insights. "If only we could gather the data automatically", Mikko was pondering. It hit us then – what would be really valuable and fresh would be combining YOUR video and YOUR data for YOU to watch.
Kalle had already been tinkering with Android by connecting it to various different devices, so it didn't take us long to came up with an initial sketch how it would all work together.
We decided to focus on mountain biking as a primary use case since you can easily hook up a smartphone on it (yes, we know about GoPro, have a few of them and we do support them, but not everyone has a GoPro. Everyone has a smartphone right?). To try out the concept, we quickly ordered an off-the-shelf heart rate sensor, reverse engineered it and a few hectic weeks of coding later the first version of Vuact Action Capture was ready for a test ride. "It worked great – it was amazing to watch my first recording with a heart rate overlay and see how quickly my heart rate responded to the changing terrain and events", Kalle reported after coming back from the first run.
Technically, the complexity in Vuact Action Capture lies in the mixture of technologies we need to have working seamlessly together. Vuact Action Capture consists of three logical parts: The app that controls the sensors and records the video, a video player that displays a data overlay while playing video and a web API that allows you to store videos and share the moments from your performances with your friends without having to manually upload the clips. There's no way we could have all of that done in a few months over the course of a Kickstarter project.
Luckily, Vuact Action Capture has already been 18 months in development, we just didn't know it when we started. Before we founded Vuact Inc. at the end of 2012, we had already filed a patent on gathering and analyzing audience reactions to online video. The whole last year, we were feverishly working on algorithms to group, analyze and visualize quantifiable data from heterogeneous sources. From early on, we were interested in data correlations and started experimenting with stacked charts to identify highest total peaks from different inputs. This concept is used in the Action Capture: visualizing recorded changes in your heart rate, velocity and altitudeon the video timeline gives you better signals about where your peak moments are.
The heart of the product is a Vuact Action Capture app that controls and records the sensors. The app combines sensor data with video – shot with either the app or an external video camera – and plots it on the video timeline. The app lets you record, view and share this video and data. It can even create automatic edits of your peak moments.
- Vuact Action Capture lets you record video and sensor data simultaneously.
- It adds context to video recordings with data from wearable and phone-based sensors, and visualizes this against the video timeline.
- You will easily find, view and share the best moments from bike rides, drives or skiing trips.
- (Optional) app automatically uploads your videos to Vuact video cloud for easy sharing and storing so you never have to remove your previous recordings.
We are targeting Android first, with iOS if we reach $70,000 in total pledges. Android supports Bluetooth Low Energy - or Bluetooth Smart - as it's branded from version 4.3 and up. Technically, connecting to and reading data from Bluetooth Smart devices is relatively simple. The app is architected so that is very easy for us to add support for new sensors.
We are supporting a heart rate sensor for the initial project and possibly adding a cadence sensor and an ODB2 sensor (car data!) with enough interest. From the phone's own sensors, we support at least GPS, accelerometer and audio recording (yes, using microphone as a sensor).
Heart Rate Sensor
Bluetooth Low Energy is important for us because we want to support multiple sensors and these devices generally consume so little energy that they don't need an external power source.
While the first prototype of Vuact Action Capture App was using a reverse-engineered off-the-shelf heart rate sensor, we wanted to build our own to meet our needs exactly. On the other hand, there are multiple branded devices on the market that all look suspiciously similar. As we started to look for manufacturing partners, it was clear that most of them very coming from the same factory. We certainly wanted to avoid re-inventing the wheel completely but our main concern was the power consumption. We needed one that wouldn't be transmitting a radio pulse all the time, but would contain a microchip that internally monitors the EKG and calculates the heart rate. We contacted several manufacturers but the typical issue was they were not willing to do low volume production runs with a custom design. The specs for Vuact Heart Rate Sensor are as follows:
- peak current consumption < 2mA
- zero power state when disconnected
- Latency from disconnected state < 6ms
- replaceable battery (e.g. CR2025 or CR2032)
- chest strap
- water resistant
- support GATT and/or HRP Bluetooth LE profiles
- HR data once per second via BLE notification
- only primary service UUID enabled when connected to strap
- enable HR sensor and reads via characteristic notification
- disable sensors when notification is canceled
- disable sensors when disconnected from strap
We ordered several prototypes from all the manufacturers we could find. Of those, we got some that didn't match our requirements, one from which we simply didn't get any readings, and a few that were priced way out of our reach. Finally, we found one manufacturer whose device matched the specs and was willing to customize the packaging for us. We were in business! Now we need your backing to go into production.
The phone holder was originally just an afterthought to this project because we really didn't think we'd need one. After all, there's an abundance of different, inexpensive phone holders available on the Web. However, as we were trying those on, we realized that most are typically designed either for a) easy and repeated clip on to maximize the touch area of the screen (e.g. use on car dashboard) or b) with swivel or ball joints for shooting video from a steady mount. Try those with mountain biking, and your video slowly starts to slide to one direction and in the worst case, your $600 smartphone flies to the rocks after one unfortunate jump. No - we needed a serious mount that will hold the phone in place while you are going through the Rock Garden. The other reason is that the video is more steady the better your are attaching it to the frame (there are conflicting arguments to this, but take it from us - no amount of suspension, cushion, etc. will reduce the vibration better than a strong, steady grip).
With these lessons in mind, we created our own phone holder, designed to keep a smartphone steady and secure for shooting video while still allowing access to the screen. It has a tripod screw mount for versatile mounting.
Handlebar mounts & helmet mounts
A tripod-screwed heavy duty handlebar mount for shooting video with the smartphone, and mounts compatible with GoPro-helmet mounts.
Storing and sharing in the Cloud
One of the basic issues with video is that it consumes a lot of storage space and moving the video files around is a slow, manual process. We wanted to make recording and sharing video so easy that you never need to think about it and you never need to worry about running out of space on your device. The app includes an option to automatically upload the recorded videos in the background to the Vuact video cloud. The uploads are resumable and you can configure whether you want the uploads to happen only if you have a Wi-Fi connection or any data connection. Once the upload is complete, you'll get an email to your inbox and you can view the video on any Web enabled device and share it with your friends.
Using the Vuact cloud is optional. You can also export and upload from the app to other destinations too, or just use the video locally on the device.
The Vuact player was designed to work both on Web and on mobile and it works with modern browsers that support SVG. The cloud service is heavily based on open source components that our team have actively contributed to.This part of our tech stack has been in development for over a year and we'll make continuous improvements to it every day.
We plan to ship the first limited run in July, with the general public release happening in September. The pledge reward levels – on the right, for your consideration – reflect this plan. Here's what the production plan looks like, past and future.
- Jan 2013 – Aug 2013: Development and delivery of Vuact's web based player.
- Aug 2013 – Dec 2013: Development and delivery of Vuact's mobile video player. The Idea.
- Dec 2013 – Jan 2014: Action Capture prototype plan and accessory design. First tests with off-the-shelf components.
- Feb 2014: Prototype building and testing.
- Mar 2014: (YOU ARE HERE) Kickstarter campaign!
- Apr 2014 – Jul 2014: Vuact Action Capture mobile app development and testing.
- Apr 2014: Design of final sensors with the manufacturing partner.
- May 2014: Manufacturing runs with sample testing; final design of accessories.
- Jun 2014: Manufacturing sensors, manufacturing accessories.
- Jul 2014: Packacing and support material design. Shipping First Of Line pledge levels.
- Aug 2014 – Sep 2014: Delivering apps to app stores. Shipping sensor and accessory packages to Kickstarter supporters!
We are two founders, originally from Finland. We met as housemates back in 2003 when Mikko had joined as an intern at Google, and Kalle was working for a startup in Mountain View. Since then, we've worked with many projects together. With Vuact, we've hit on something we've considered a huge problem both for ourselves and for the world at large – that there's too much video, and it's all really time-consuming to navigate.
Between us, we have lots of experience in building both video and mobile products (that's mostly Kalle), and in product management and using video on the field and in production (that's especially Mikko). Supporting us, we have a team of talented open source veterans.
Thanks for reading this far! We would love to hear your questions, and will keep adding to FAQ throughout the project. We really appreciate your support – let's make this happen!
Risks and challenges
Technology Risks: While Bluetooth Smart is a well-documented standard and we have extensive experience with app design and wireless technologies, something can always come up that slows us down. It is extremely unlikely that something were to come up that would completely stop us – we already have a functional prototype with a clear plan on how to make it work.
iOS specific risks: We can easily distribute an Android app. iOS app needs to be approved by Apple. We are not developing anything in violation with their terms, but that's just something to be aware of.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (31 days)