The week in gadgets: an auto-tracking camera mount, an Android USB adapter, and in-flight iPads

23 Jul 2012

A look at gadget happenings, as two surfers create a camera mount that can track a subject all by itself, a USB adapter costing less than US$2 lets Android users connect various peripherals to their devices, Qantas passengers look forward to in-flight iPads, and global sales of the Samsung Galaxy S III pass the 10m mark.

Who needs a cameraman?

The Soloshot auto-tracking camera mount automatically pans and tracks whoever is wearing the system’s armband, which is waterproof and shockproof to withstand all kinds of activity worth filming.

The system comes with a 5-foot tripod and the mount fits most cameras or camcorders up to 5lbs. Plant it where it’s got a good view, strap on the armband and away you go – up to half a kilometre away, that is.

Within this range, the device can track your movements, allowing the camera 360-degree rotation up to 40 degrees per second – fast enough to track a car travelling at 143mph.

The Soloshot is battery powered and lasts for about five hours of use, and a bright green LED constantly points your way so you know the device is keeping up.


You’ll need a camera with reliable autofocus and a safe zone to put it (although the gadget does come with two locks to secure your camera to the mount and the tripod to a stationary object), and the Soloshot will help you do your best Bear Grylls impression without needing a full camera crew along for the adventure.

US-based creators Chris Boyle and Scott Taylor hand-build and verify each Soloshot as demand dictates, taking 30 days to make and ship each model. However, they have recently started a Kickstarter project in order to streamline production for next-day shipping.

If you can’t wait for this to get off the ground, you can always buy a hand-built model for US$479.

Add-ons for Android with a cheap USB adapter

A cheap cable available on for just US$1.36 lets users connect keyboards, USB drives, gaming controllers and other peripherals to Android devices.

The USB On-The-Go adapter is simply a female USB port that plugs into your device’s micro-USB port, letting you connect other devices via USB 2.0 or 3.0.

USB hosting is technically available from Android 3.1 onwards, but this must be enabled by the manufacturer to work, who can also limit what peripherals the device will support. Through experimentation and crowdsourcing, CNET has compiled a list of compatible devices, finding the Samsung family of Android devices to be most compatible.

A test drive with the Samsung Galaxy S III successfully connected a USB key, powered hard drive, card reader, DSLR camera, USB-to-Ethernet adapter, keyboard, mouse, USB hub connecting a keyboard and a mouse, and, bizarrely, a PlayStation 3 controller.

In-flight iPads for Qantas passengers

Passengers on Qantas 767 aeroplanes will soon be given an in-flight treat in the form of iPads for their entertainment needs. A successful trial of QStreaming in-air streaming technology has led the airline to make plans to supply passengers with iPads on domestic east coast routes and flights to Perth, giving them access to more than 200 hours of entertainment programmes.

“Our customers were the first in the world to experience the ground-breaking Wi-Fi entertainment technology and we received great feedback from our customers during the trial this year,” said Qantas domestic CEO Lyell Strambi, The Canberra Times reports. “QStreaming will be available free of charge to all our passengers across the B767 fleet.”

The first plane equipped with the technology will take off in the fourth quarter of 2012 and this luxury isn’t only afforded to the elite, as both business and economy class passengers will be given iPads.

Samsung Galaxy S III smartphone sales reach beyond 10m

In less than two months, Samsung’s latest flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S III, has sold more than 10m units worldwide, said Shin Jong-Kyun, president of Samsung’s information technology and mobile communication division.

First unveiled in London on 29 May, the S III has received favourable reviews since and the coveted device is now on sale in 145 countries, selling what equates to about 190,000 phones per day.

The older Galaxy S II took five months to reach this milestone and the South Korean manufacturer expects sales of the S III to hold steady into the third quarter as the new iPhone is not expected until September or October.

Stay informed – get daily updates on the latest happenings in technology directly to your inbox.

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.