So I was internet grazing one day a few months ago and happened upon this thing called the Galileo. It’s a little motorised mount for your iPhone and iPod Touch1. You snap your phone into the holder and then you can move the phone around using all these different apps that are compatible with it. I was immediately struck that this thing might enable me to be able to take photos and time lapses remotely, which meant that I would be able to do it by myself without needing an able-bodied person to help me. Whoooooo! So yes, I’ve been
totally a little obsessed with trying to work out how to take my own photographs for a long time, and it’s a ridiculously difficult thing to do if you’re quadriplegic. Heck, finding a camera that I could use when I was able bodied and left-handed was difficult enough!
Anyway I wrote to Motrr, the company makes the Galileo and outlined by Grand Plans and the wonderful Jasper sent me one for free to Test. So consider this Full Disclosure™ - I totally got this for free, you guys. For. Freeeeeee.
Anyway, I wrote to these people, the company is called Motrr, and outlined my Grand Plans, and they sent me one for free. So this is a disclosure - I totally got this for free, you guys. For. Freeeeeeee.
How It Works
Okay, I’ve been wrestling with how to describe the physical movement of the Galileo when it’s going about its swoopy business. It’s kind of an alive, circular, upside down sweeping radar dish type of motion. It’s very slick to say the least, So as nobody has said ever “A Vimeo Embed Is Worth 50 Words This Lazy Blogger Doesn’t Have To Think of” :
See what I mean, it really is a treat to watch. When I first switched it on I completely forgot that it was taking a series of pictures and just enjoyed watching it move. It feels very well made and has a lovely black textured surface, which my partner tells me feels very nice to the touch. But seeing as I can’t touch anything with my hands, I can definitely say that this feels lovely when you rub it on your top lip!2
How I’ve Been Using It
There’s quite a few apps and there are already compatible with Galileo, there’s a complete list on the website and that list seems to be growing which is a Good Thing. one quick example that caught my eye was FaceSnap, this enables the Galileo to watch for and detect people’s faces and automatically take photographs. So you can put the Galileo on a tripod at a party, and then Galileo and FaceSnap can take all of your party photos for you. Make sure that EVERYBODY3 at the party knows that it’s there though, otherwise it could be a bit creepy!
Out of that list of applications, I’m just going to tell you how I’ve been using my two favourites otherwise this post will turn into a monster.
CollaboraCam enables you to see through your iPhone’s camera whilst controlling where the camera is pointing from your iPad or other iDevice. I got a Designated Pair of Hands™ to snap the iPhone into the Galileo, fired up CollaboraCam on the iPad and could straight away see what my iPhone’s camera was seeing. The app allows you to move the iPhone around in a 360° arc (this is where the motorised Galileo comes in), so you can effectively “look” around you and take whatever video or still images you like. This is the really amazing part actually - being able to look around, even look upwards (I can’t move my head in some directions), and then take my own shots, without having to wait for a Designated Pair of Hands™ to be free to help me is incredibly freeing.
The Sphere app uses the 360° rotation of the Galileo to build, well, spheres. They’re 360° (spherical) photo environments you can look around, So when viewing one on an iPhone you can point the iPhone at the ceiling and see what was directly above the iPhone when it took the pictures. It’s quite strange being inside and pointing the iPhone at the ceiling, only to see the tops of trees and the sky from the park where the sphere was taken! It’s very easy to do - just snap the phone into the Galileo, twist to connect, open the app and hit create.
This really expanded my universe. It’s amazing. We’re in the end stages of a pretty crazy and epic project: to build an accessible smart home. It’s been a massive two year project involving lots of design and discussion and opinions about curtains but I have never seen the flat I’ll be moving to. I’ve never even been to the town I’m moving to! I’ve seen normal video footage of the house, but I’ve never looked “around” the place or experienced it as a real dimensional environment.
It’s hard to explain. Here’re a couple of examples of what I’m talking about, you can see our new kitchen and bedroom, still with a little bit of work to do:
This is the kitchen Sphere:
This is the bedroom Sphere:
My partner was also able to take the Galileo to local parks around where I live, take these amazing spherical photographs and bring back really immersive images for me to see. Definitely enables me to see parts of the world I wouldn’t be able to see otherwise, in the type of detail that a flat photograph just cannot convey.
The Galileo really is great if you want to take photographs yourself and have a couple of iDevices about, I particularly like the FaceSnap application as a way for me to take photographs of family gatherings and parties. When used in conjunction with CollaboraCam it means you can take some awesome static shots by yourself if you have limited mobility like me. It makes the brilliant camera in the iPhone accessible in a whole new way, using the Galileo you can take pictures of your full environment in 360° glory. Very cool.