A prototype is a preliminary model of something. Projects that offer physical products need to show backers documentation of a working prototype. This gallery features photos, videos, and other visual documentation that will give backers a sense of what’s been accomplished so far and what’s left to do. Though the development process can vary for each project, these are the stages we typically see:
Proof of Concept
Explorations that test ideas and functionality.
Demonstrates the functionality of the final product, but looks different.
Looks like the final product, but is not functional.
Appearance and function match the final product, but is made with different manufacturing methods.
Appearance, function, and manufacturing methods match the final product.
What is the ProAir Pole System?
The ProAir Pole System is an innovative new product designed to let you get yourself in the action when using your action camera. The System is comprised of the Pole, and four different base mounts: the Body Mount, Suction Mount, Boom Mount, and Rail Mount. The base mounts allow the pole to be attached onto a huge range of equipment and items, including yourself, so you can achieve great footage of yourself in almost any sport, leaving your hands free from holding the camera or pole.
This pole has been refined for over two years through relentless testing. Only by using the pole on ski slopes, under water, scaling vertical cliffs, pillar jumping, mountain biking, windsurfing, and more, did we discover practical difficulties in using earlier prototypes, which we then set about resolving and improving. The result is truly a pole made by dedicated action sports enthusiasts, for dedicated action sports enthusiasts.
The ProAir Pole
We've designed and engineered the ProAir Pole to be, I believe, the best stand alone pole available. It's made from locking, telescopic, carbon fibre tubes making it adjustable, and is extremely light weight, whilst allowing it to maintain a high level of strength and rigidity. The handle is a made from a high density foam which is both rugged enough to withstand the harshest of environments, yet forgiving enough to remain comfortable at the end of a long day's filming. Every little detail serves a purpose, even the matte style of the carbon fibre finish - we found that poles with a glossy finish were often more conspicuous in the footage. After changing to a matte finish there was less reflection on the pole making it far less noticeable.
Another key feature of the pole is the swivelling head mount. We wanted to be able to quickly and easily change the orientation of the camera at any point through 360 degrees, so we could capture a new angle almost instantly. Using a locking screw requires 2 hands and is cumbersome, so instead, we have designed and built a spring loaded swivel head on a ratchet. This allows you to rotate the camera in any direction, with one hand, and once you've adjusted, it is already locked in place.
The angled part of the pole near the camera not only makes the pole much smaller and less obtrusive in the footage, as the lens is further away from the pole, but if you turn the camera outwards to film a friend (snowboarding for example), the camera can sit below the centre of gravity of the pole. This makes the pole more comfortable to hold, and easier to maintain the camera in a horizontal position.
The Base Mounts
The body mount is arguably the most versatile of the base mounts, allowing you to attach the pole to your body to achieve phenomenal filming angles. It can be worn facing forwards or backwards so you can obtain the best shot depending on your sport. It's also designed so that it's narrow and slightly curved – this makes it practical to swivel around your body making fitting and adjusting very quick and easy. It's overall profile however, is such that it provides sufficient stability to support the pole. This stability is further enhanced with a careful combination of a wide elasticated waist band, and rigid webbing.
The suction mount uses two powerful suction cups to securely fasten the pole to any surface which is smooth and hard, meaning you can attach the pole to a huge range of equipment.
Examples of equipment I've attached the pole to using the suction mount:
Stand Up Paddle Board
The Rail Mount uses a u-bolt mechanism whereby you can securely attach onto a rigid rail, such as those found on a road bicycle, motorbike, or quadbike. Using this mount you can capture previously unobtainable footage of yourself in your sport. You can see yourself in action from an angle never seen before, and because its hands-free, you don't even have to think about the camera.
Examples of equipment I've attached the pole to using the Rail Mount:
Off Road Buggy
The Boom Mount is a mount designed specifically for windsurfers and sailors. It uses a jubilee clip mechanism so is more suitable for larger tubes, and tubes with reduced strength and rigidity such as thin sections of aluminium, plastic and carbon fibre. Using the boom mount you can obtain a unique new perspective in which both yourself and the vessel are in the action.
Examples of equipment I've attached the pole to using the boom mount:
Sailing Dinghy Boom
Sailing Dinghy Mast
ProAir Pole Features
The ProAir Pole System has been extensively tested, and consequently, every detail of the product has a story from a real life situation which explains exactly why that particular detail is the way it is. One thing we learned while skiing for example is that we wanted to be able to operate every aspect of the pole with ski gloves or mitts on. We also wanted it to pack away sufficiently compactly when not in use, to fit in a small back pack or a small hold luggage suitcase. Necessary modifications were made to ensure such features could be achieved.
Breakaway/Quick Release Mechanism
The breakaway mechanism is a unique safety feature, and a vital part of the system. It works in a similar way to a ski boot or cycle cleats, meaning it's rigid in most circumstances, but in adverse conditions, such as having a wipe out when skiing, the pole will breakaway, reducing risk of injury and damage to the pole. There is also a safety leash included meaning that when the pole does break away it is easily recoverable.
The breakaway mechanism also acts as quick release, allowing you to easily remove the pole from the base mounts. This is an important feature as it makes it easy to change between mounts, and easy to remove the pole at any time where it's no longer convenient to wear. I found this a vital requirement, for example when arriving at the bottom of a ski slope to a busy chair lift queue.
To achieve the strength, precision and smoothness required in operation, the casing of this mechanism is manufactured from aluminium, anodised, to give it a beautiful cool and solid feel.
Take a look at the video to see the quick release in action.
Adjustable Ball Joint
I quickly realised that I wanted to capture different angles depending on what sport I was doing. The solution to this was the ball and socket joint. This feature allows for an unlimited number of angles, and it only takes a few seconds to adjust, thanks to the quick release handle that operates it. The anodised aluminium socket around a solid rubber ball gives this component superb strength and a lovely smooth, solid feel.
Integrated Spare Locking Screw
The spare locking screw is another perfect example of a feature that I added as a result of personal experiences I've had when testing. On two separate occasions I've lost the locking screw, once when out on the water, and once when snowboarding. On both occasions I've missed out on capturing some great footage (since you can't film without the screw), so now, built into the pole and completely concealed, is a spare locking screw.
Swivelling Head Mount
Unlike many poles, which only allow the camera to face forwards or backwards, the ProAir Pole swivelling head joint allows you to change your camera, to face any direction, in a matter of seconds.
Interchangeable Head Mounts
Whilst action cameras are the ultimate tool for filming action sports, there are many action sports which can be filmed with your smartphone or compact camera. For this reason I have made the ProAir Pole System compatible with all smartphones and 1/4" thread cameras, as well as the standard action camera mount, as used in GoPro's.
ProAir Action Camera Case
The idea for the ProAir Pole first came about when I got tired of seeing this every time I used my GoPro...
When what I really wanted to see was this...
I was tired of the fact that I was never in the action. I'd accumulated a whole hard drive of footage of my shadow, my view, and my friends, but not of me. I found this sort of video becomes boring and repetitive very quickly. I remember thinking how great the videos on the GoPro website looked when I bought my first GoPro, and after re watching them, I quickly recognised that the best footage is filmed from a 3rd person point of view, meaning there's always someone 'in the action'. Accepting that I’m not a professional or Red Bull sponsored athlete, I still wanted to obtain good footage of myself, quickly, cheaply, easily, and for this to be achievable even if I was on my own. For most action camera users, quality 3rd person footage is very difficult to achieve, unless you can afford the luxury of a drone (and someone to fly it), or you wanted to commit your hands to holding a pole (which is impossible in many sports). I set out to solve this problem.
My first prototype was made in my dad's work shed from some copper plumbing pipes and an action sports back pad. It was the the earliest version of the body mount and pole you see today. I tested this prototype and continued to develop it over 2 years. Soon the copper pipe became a walking pole, making it telescopic, and the back pad became a windsurfing harness, making it more rigid. I also added new features such as ball and socket mount because I realised that I wanted to be able to easily change the angle of the camera when I was out skiing. Every alteration I made was based on extensive testing in real life situations, meaning as I developed the product it became tailored to have everything an action sport enthusiast could want, and nothing they didn't need.
Over time I developed the product into a system consisting of the pole and the four base mounts, this development allowed users to film themselves in virtually any action sport. Once I had refined the system sufficiently, I had professional prototypes made and began to look at how the product could be viably produced. I worked on the business throughout my A levels and all through my summer holidays after school finished. I'm now a first year student at the University of Leeds studying Mechanical and Electrical Engineering, and I'm running the business alongside my studies. It's been a long road to get the product to this stage, but with your help I feel I now have a chance to bring the ProAir Pole System to market, and help you get the footage you really want from your action camera.
Risks and challenges
BUSINESS EXPERIENCE: This is my first entrepreneurial venture, and I learn every day the value of experience. Whilst I am learning rapidly, there is a risk associated with backing a novice entrepreneur such as myself. As a new student at Leeds university this year, I quickly engaged with an organisation called SPARK (A business start-up advice centre). I was promptly invited to pitch for a scholarship in entrepreneurial enterprise. I was delighted to win a financial award from this pitch, as well as access into the Leeds Innovation Centre Business Incubator. I can now engage directly with some of the country’s leading business people and entrepreneurs for advice, guidance and mentoring. I believe these connections will prove invaluable in assisting me to a successful delivery of this Kickstarter campaign, and reduce risks often associated through lack of business experience and knowledge.
MANUFACTURING: In order to bring the ProAir Pole to the market tooling must first be made so we can mass produce. This is an expensive process and one in which delays could occur. To minimise this possibility we're working with manufacturers with a track record of prompt delivery and quality execution.
PRODUCT ADJUSTMENT: As we get ready for production there will likely be some minor changes to improve the final product. These changes could be suggestions by experienced manufacturing partners, or suggested improvements from you, my backers. Any changes made will always be for the benefit of the backers and you will be notified of these changes with an explanation of exactly how and why we made the change.
Tired of finding scratches on your GoPro lens or smartphone? Protect it with this ‘limited Kickstarter edition’ protective neoprene case. Or if you want to participate in my launch but you don’t have an action camera, grab yourself this stylish pouch and use it for your glasses or sunglasses.
The Pole can be used ‘standalone’, as a hand held pole, so you can start capturing yourself in the action with this beautifully engineered carbon fibre pole. It’s ready to attach on to the breakaway mechanism and any of the base mounts if you buy these later.
This would make you the ultimate ProAir supporter, so, as well as receiving the 'ProAir Ultimate Bundle', you would also be featured in our next promotional video.
As well as this you'll be invited for lunch with the founder of ProAir, myself, so you could hear more about the story of the company so far, and my vision for the company going forward.