Waylens, a startup born out of the MIT Media Lab, has launched its Kickstarter campaign for what is basically a “GoPro for cars,” except it does more than just capture high-quality video, as co-founder and CMO Michael Schmidt told me.
The synonymous product is called a “data-driven automotive camera system,” and there’s a reason why: beyond the high-performance camera that captures 1080P video at 60 frames per second in any environment, the system also includes a wireless connector that attaches to a car’s OBD-II port and feeds information, like MPH and RPM, from the car engine’s computer to a video overlay.
“We put a lot of work into designing this very specifically for cars.”
Once it finishes capturing video, the camera’s software will attempt to identify the most notable moments from the footage, such as the fastest acceleration or the highest G forces reached during a drive, and the Waylens mobile app will create shareable video clips that can be uploaded to YouTube and other social media platforms.
The user can also filter through footage using the data collected through the car engine and the system’s sensors. And the system comes with a steering wheel remote that lets users automatically upload footage through the mobile app in way Schmidt said is safe.
“We put a lot of work into designing this very specifically for cars,” he said. “It allows people to easily and safely capture their experience and share that sort of love and enthusiasm for their cars with other people in their digital lives.”
Waylens recently raised a $2.2M round with participation from IDG Capital Partners and E14 Fund, which is a fund to help startups that come out of the MIT Lab. Schmidt said that funding is meant to support the startup’s product development and help make sure it can deliver on the Kickstarter campaign. Update: Waylens has already raised nearly triple the amount of its $55,000 goal, as of Tuesday afternoon.
So why start a Kickstarter if Waylens already has some funding? In general, if a company doesn’t necessarily need to raise capital from backers to deliver on a product, a crowdfunding campaign can be seen as an alternative way to market the product and gauge consumer interest.
But Schmidt said the startup decided to go with Kickstarter because it will help Waylens test the product and receive important feedback from customers. “Kickstarter is one of the great places where we can count on backers being very supportive and giving feedback,” he said.
To encourage early adoption of the system, Waylens is offering beta units through Kickstarter for a starting price at $249, which is half of what the retail price will be, Schmidt said.
Kickstarter backers are expected to receive their units by mid-2016, a target Schmidt said the startup is confident in reaching. He said manufacturing partners have already been identified.
Waylens is entering a growing market for action cameras, which GoPro helped usher in with its line of high-quality, lightweight and sturdy high-quality video cameras. According to Futuresource Consulting, the international action camera market grew by 44% last year, reaching 7.6 million units and a retail value of $3.2B, and it’s expected to continue to grow in the coming years.
Editor’s note: The article has been updated to include the retail price and other details.