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Linux accessory adds web access to dumb cameras

Oct 31, 2014 — by Eric Brown — 1,195 views

Lumera Labs is aiming to Kickstarter an open source Linux camera attachment for one-click transfers to the cloud via WiFi, plus GPS tagging, HDR, and 3D.

We’ve seen a number of pricey, Internet-ready smart cameras, such as the $1,200, Android-based Samsung Galaxy NX, but what if you’re rather fond of your high-quality dumb camera, but wish it was instantly connected to the web? Montreal startup Lumera Labs aims to fill this need with an open source camera attachment called the Lumera that can “support and hold any kind of camera with any type of lens,” thereby providing one-click uploads to web services.

(click image to enlarge)

The Lumera also supplies features that your camera may not have, including GPS tagging, High Dynamic Range (HDR) photos, timelapse photography, and live streaming to a mobile device, says the company. You can even connect a second camera to create stereoscopic photos.

Lumera Labs is offering Kickstarter funding packages for the Lumera through Dec. 9 starting at $140 Canadian Dollars ($125 US), a discount from the final price of $190 CAD ($170). Developer editions, which offer early March 2015 access to the open source Linux SDK, two months before the May 2015 delivery to standard backers, start at $340 CAD ($303).

Lumera OLED display (left) and mobile app

The Lumera screws into your camera’s tripod mount via a thumb screw, and connects to the camera via the USB port. A second mount sandwiches it between the camera and a tripod. The device can hold any camera up to 15 kilograms, says the company.

The device’s OLED display works in conjunction with a mobile app available on Android or iOS, used for setting up the device. For example, you can assign typical social networks and cloud storage services for uploads, or select camera parameters and image processing algorithms. The mobile app supports wireless capture, as well as editing of parameters like shutter speed, ISO, focus and zoom area, white balance, drive mode, aperture, image quality and format.

Once the Lumera is set up, you can operate it entirely from the OLED screen, with the help of some accompanying physical buttons. The display shows services, parameters, a status dashboard, and a progress bar for image or video transfers.

Lumera geotagging (left) and stereoscopic features
(click images to enlarge)

The Lumera runs Linux on an unnamed MIPS processor, accompanied by an ARM microcontroller. The device integrates 802.11n for data transfer and live streaming, as well as Bluetooth Low Energy 4.0 for remote control via a mobile device.

There’s also a GPS transceiver for geotagging, as well as a second USB host port to connect to an optional storage device or to a second camera for orchestrating stereoscopic 3D photos. An onboard battery charges via a micro-USB port.

Lumera’s soon to be open-sourced PCB
(click image to enlarge)

The Lumera uses the open source PTP (Picture Transfer Protocol) to “communicate with most popular cameras and reverse engineered open source libraries to communicate with some closed protocol cameras,” says the company. The device currently supports dozens of Nikon cameras, mostly DSC models, as well as dozens more Canon EOS models, such as various Rebel cameras and Canon Mark II through IV models. The company plans to support many more cameras, and invites users to recommend camera models for support in a survey.

Lumera is not only open sourcing the Linux SDK, but also the physical design of the device. Wikis and forums will be able to help support a DIY hacking community. Right now, however, the tech details are rather slim.

Lumera video introduction

Further information

The Lumera is available on Kickstarter through Dec. 9 starting at $140 Canadian Dollars ($125), or in developer versions starting at $340 CAD ($303). Shipments are expected in March 2015 (developers) or May (general). The eventual consumer price is expected to be $190 CAD ($170). More information may be found at the Lumera Kickstarter page and the Lumera Labs website.

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