The fight between stand-alone video cameras and those found inside of smartphones has become fierce. So that’s where the Looxcie LX2 Wearable Video Cam comes in: it takes advantage of both being its own camera and integrating with smartphone tech. And because it’s wearable, you can use it pretty much anywhere with ease.
The Looxcie LX2 addresses the issues most relevant to those of us for whom documenting our lives and involving it with social networking is everything. Forget Google glasses, the Looxcie lets you record what is going on around you and then lets you save or share it. But because of its built-in buffer, you’re not required to have pressed the record button in order to capture that once-in-a-lifetime event, because the Looxcie makes sure that everything is being recorded all the time anyway. And the built-in omnidirectional mike is always active.
The best way to explain what the Looxcie can do is to show it being used, so we’ll suit up (to paraphrase Iron Man). The rechargeable, USB-driven battery has more than enough juice for recording over an hour of video at a single go, although, it’s doubtful it will be used like that. Also, the lightweight nature means it can lay against your face for hours without becoming a nuisance. Of course you can also go with one of the accessories for holding it if you don’t want to do it yourself, such as a baseball cap holder or a tripod mount or a helmet mount. But I’ll put it on since that is how it will most usually be used (the retail of $99.99 being enough to spend at first before worrying about accessories).
The real challenge in using the Looxcie LX2 isn’t about taking videos, it’s about placing it correctly on your face so that you’re shooting what your eyes are aimed at. You select one of the earbuds that fits into the ear canal best and then push the the ear-loop post through a hole where it stays through friction. Then you place the earbud in your ear and the loop around your ear so that it lightly touches your cheek and faces forward. I found this easiest to do the first time using a mirror. Then I powered it on, paired it with my iPhone in the usual BT manner and ran one of the free apps so I could see the image on the screen and make minute adjustments to the Looxcie’s position until I was satisfied. I found that I could approximate the position on my face fairly consistently after that, although I always checked it in one of the app’s video window afterwards.
There’s a slight delay in seeing what the camera is seeing when looking at the app’s video window, and the view on the iPhone is jerky and lower in resolution than what the camera is actually capturing. I found that it was less important to have the added time by using the 320p video setting and instead went with the higher quality 480p; on most occasions I never ran out of video recording space and so could use the Looxcie program on my Mac to sync with the vidcam and download the video clips before clearing out the storage (and in some cases I also loaded down the raw data which is recording constantly when the Looxcie is on when I didn’t mind the long wait).
I wore the Looxcie LX2 around for the day just to see whether I’d get any looks from people. I didn’t, because I guess that most folks thought it was just a Bluetooth headset (note: because it syncs via Bluetooth with a smartphone and has a microphone, it can be used to take/make calls with a multipurpose button that’s just ahead of the Record button at the back end). And this was even though there’s a red LED on the front that illuminates when recording (the vidcam being black doesn’t hurt). Because of this acceptance/ignorance of what I was wearing, I was able to film fairly surreptitiously — nobody stared at me or came up to ask what that thing on my face was as I first tried it out by going into a Jack in the Box fast food restaurant. And after a while I kind of forgot it was there too. But I did keep in mind the possibility of my invading someone’s privacy, so no streaming or uploading of this content to the Looxcie website that lets you transmit “live” footage for viewing by others. And since there’s a recording “buffer” that is constantly recording raw data, at any time I wanted to I could time-shift backwards to capture the last 30 seconds as a video clip, as opposed to just hitting the record button.
I also wore it during the recent E3 show to shoot clips of booths as a video “notebook” and this made it a lot easier for me to remember specific products I saw there. Yeah I got a few looks from those “in the know,” but again for the majority of the crowd, my having a vidcam was innocuous. And since I could view the video on the iPhone, I could hold the Looxcie overhead and aim it so as to record what I couldn’t look directly at. I was also able to stream video to my wife later that day from the press room, using the WiFi connection so as to show her what all the excitement was about. The best part of it all was that I could exit the app to do other things without being forced to stop the Looxcie from whatever it was doing. But from watching the video window I was able to see that rapid movements make the video jerky (read that as blurred), so I had to learn to both move my head more slowly when “panning” and also to avoid “bouncing” as I walked. Both of these took little time to get hold of. I also discovered on some occasions later that if I had the Looxcie too closely set against my face, part of the lens’ view would be curtialed. The easiest way to avoid this beforehand is to start the recording from the app, not the LX2, as in this way you can preview what the camera is seeing.
I experimented with the various Looxcie apps but found myself gravitating towards two most of the time: the LooxcieCam that performs just like a camcorder, recording whatever is seen at 30fps (storage capacity dictates how much can be saved). Video clips can be previewed in the app and then saved — but they’re saved to the Looxcie. LooxcieMoments is also intriguing as it functions like a time machine” in that it records in a loop so that when you feel something just happened that happens you want to see, you can “back up” in the video buffer to find it as a form of an “instant replay” using a dedicated button. The other two apps are more social networking-involved, being Looxcie which streams from mobile-to-mobile to friends and Facebook and isn’t restricted to only being used with the vidcam, and LooxcieLive which also works without the camera (uses the iOS’ camera) for sharing live video broadcasts with friends and interacting with in-app text and voice chat.
Bottom line: The Looxcie LX2 is like something out of mythology: an all-seeing “eye” that takes in the world around you for whatever use you want to put it to. If I were into extreme sports or had to have everything I did monitored and shared I’d be all over this vidcam. But just as a way of capturing daily life and entertaining moments of time, it’s pretty cool for doing that too.