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Motrr Galileo: Robotic motion control for iPhone

If there's one accessory for the iPhone that has been breathlessly anticipated by a lot of photographers and videographers, it's the Motrr Galileo robotic iPhone mount. The product began life as a Kickstarter that received more than US$700,000 in funding, then went into hibernation for a while as the developers worked on bringing this sophisticated device to market. Now it's finally available for $149.95 in two different formats -- 30-pin, in case you wish to repurpose your old iPhone as a remotely controlled webcam, or Bluetooth. There are also white or black models, just in case you're fussy about making sure your motion-control mount matches your iPhone.

Our test device was one of the Bluetooth models. It's a rather tiny device; a squat cylinder about 3.25" in diameter and just two inches tall. There's a micro-USB port on one side for charging, one LED for battery status on the bottom, and several "cups" that are used to ensure a tight fit of your iPhone or iPod touch so it doesn't fall out during a photo session.

The first thing you need to do is go out to the App Store and pick up the Motrr app. This app doesn't control your Galileo, rather it's a digital catalog for finding apps that are compatible with Galileo. I decided to give the device a try with Sphere, a free app that works with the Galileo mount to take 360° spherical images.

The result? Magic. To link a Galileo-enabled app with the device, you simply twist the bottom and top parts of the mount to send a pairing signal to the iPhone. That's it. With the Sphere app, there was a special item under the "hamburger" button for linking the Galileo mount and starting the photography. What happened next was incredible: the Galileo began whirring and moving, stopping to take photos at precise intervals. Within a very short amount of time I had a spherical image of my kitchen to navigate around -- it was almost like being there!

Sphere and Galileo are the perfect couple, but what's cool is that there are a growing number of other apps that work with the mount. Right now, those include AirBeam ($3.99, for surveillance), RecoLive MultiCam ($4.99), and the $4.99 TimeLapse app. I happened to have a copy of the latter app from an experiment last year with the wind-up $30 Camalapse, and it's a very capable time lapse photography app. Add an amazing mount like the Galileo to the mix, and you have a way to take some incredible movies. Simply connect Galileo to TimeLapse by doing that little "twist to pair" action, and a Motrr button appears on the screen. With that, you can set the revolutions per hour for both pan and tilt.

I'm personally waiting for one app that is supposed to be out early in 2014: Motrr Live. It's designed to let you and others video chat while controlling the other Motrr remotely. There are other apps that currently work only with the 30-pin dock connector version of Galileo, but I didn't list them here.

Conclusion

The Motrr Galileo robotic mount is perfect for the iPhone or iPod touch photographer/videographer who desires precise control of camera movement. While there still aren't a lot of apps available offering support for the mount, I would expect to see many more as developers realize just how powerful this accessory is.

Pros

  • Very precise and extremely quiet, perfect for filming video
  • Unique design offers almost spherical coverage of any scene through 360° pan and tilt
  • Considering the technology involved, $150 is a bargain for this device
  • Can be mounted on any standard tripod

Cons

  • Not that many apps support the device at this point, particular the Bluetooth version of the Galileo

Who is it for?

  • The iPhone videographer who wants a better way of controlling pan and tilt automatically during filming, the photographer who is working on time lapse photographs, or (coming soon) anyone who wants to control where someone else's device is pointed during a video call.

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