While golfing with friends, businessman-entrepreneur Sid Reich (pronounced Rich) noticed a squirrel jump into his golf cart, rip open a bag of bagels, pull one out and run to a nearby tree to eat it. “I wish I had a video of that moment so I could have shown people that squirrel munching on my bagel instead of telling them about it,” he laughingly said at the time.
Proving that many big business deals are made on the golf course, Reich’s experience with the squirrel inspired him to form Deja View, Inc. in September 2002. Today, after months of product development, the New Jersey-based firm is ready to start selling this spring.
The new Deja View Camwear Model 100 is the first in a series of wearable digital camcorders with Reich’s patent-pending “after-the-fact” technology, giving it the ability to capture sights and sounds that occur 30 seconds BEFORE the user presses the “record” button.
“The Model 100 is not like a standard video camcorder,” Reich explains. “It’s primary purpose is to record those special moments that would otherwise be only a memory. It’s appeal is to anybody who can relate to the age-old cry of many experienced — and not so experienced — photographers: “I missed the shot!”
How does it work? Weighing no more than a deck of cards, the camcorder consists of an inch-long camera and microphone that is smaller than a nickel in diameter and clips onto eyeglasses or the bill of a hat. When the “record” button is pressed, the Model 100 saves the most recent 30-second segment to a flash memory card located in a pager-sized hip or waist pack.
Reich said he combined his knowledge of mathematics and statistics (he has degrees in both from the University of Alabama-Birmingahm) with his experience selling computers to turn the idea into a practical concept. He then combined the technology of Webcams, which take 15-second clips of scenes, with the memory of digital cameras and developed a working prototype to present to potential investors, retailers and end-users.
“I just felt like I could build something with fast memory and put it on a small computer, in this case a computer the size of a cell phone,” he said. “Importantly, with this camera you won’t have to read the instruction book several times to learn to use it. You don’t have to hold it up to your eye until something happens, and you don’t ever miss any special moments.”
The device is built around the MiMagic 3 application processor from NeoMagic Corporation in Santa Clara, Calif., an NW901 single chip MPEG-4 CODEC integrated circuit design from Divio, Inc. of Sunnyvale, Calif. and NAND Flash SD memory cards from Toshiba America Electronic Components, Inc. (TAEC).
The Model 100 will retail for $299 and be available in several major stores where consumer electronics are sold, and at the company’s website, www.mydejaview.com
To use the Camwear, users need only keep their head steady while the device is powered on and scan the areas where action might occur. Once something does happen that they want to capture, they hit the “record” button to grab the last 30 seconds of action. Each clip is automatically stored in the removable memory cards in the “hip-pack”. The camcorder will hold a minimum of 48 video/audio clips on the 64MB card that is included. It will accept cards up to 512MB.
Reich said the 30-second clips also can be “daisy-chained” and battery life is approximately four hours. A rechargeable battery in the remote unit provides up to eight hours of power for a maximum of 250 video captures, and a supplied 110v charger is similar to those used with cellular phones.
Other features include:
An indicator light that warns when less than five minutes of storage capacity remain on the compact flash unit.
Using a USB cable or flash memory reader clips can be downloaded to a PC or Mac, to TV and VCRs, or to DVD burner via RCA jacks.
File viewing is possible using Deja View?s software or Windows Media Player, RealPlayer and other industry-standard players.
Deja View?s software allows users to create CDs, VCDs and DVDs, depending on their computer hardware.
DirectConnect ($49.95) reads flash memory and sends video, video with audio or still pictures directly to a TV or VCR. It can be used with all Deja View cameras or any digital camera, and is compatible with most media, including CompactFlash Type I and II, MicroDrive, SmartMedia, MultiMediaCard, SecureDigital and Memory Stick.
Reich said his company is targeting consumers who want to capture memories for their families – those priceless moments when baby takes the first steps, son or daughter graduates college, gets married or when parents become grandparents. “It is especially handy,” he said, “at Little League and soccer games, during fishing trips and othe family outings.”
However, he sees a variety of other possible applications such as law enforcement, travel and adventure trips, business training, teleconferencing, speeches and insurance investigations, to name a few.
“Can you imagine the benefit of showing the police a digital clip of the hit-and-run driver complete with car description and license plate number? Or, what about the salesperson who reneges on an earlier agreement? The possibilities are endless,” he said.