It's a pitch we've heard before, whether it's from Ubiquiti Labs's autonomous FrontRow camera or Snapchat's hot-until-they-were-not Spectacles glasses. Roader thinks it can distinguish itself from other wearable cameras by being easy to slip on — the $199 Roader camera dangles from a mount you wear around your neck — and by capturing footage before you even start shooting.
Tap a button on Roader, and it will record a 10-second burst of footage. But it will also augment that clip with 10 seconds of buffered video from before your recording started. Founder Sjoerd Pitstra described it as a "time machine camera" during a demo here at CES 2018.
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Roader's camera has a 120-degree field of view to capture whatever's in front of you. Some other wearable cameras I've tried out tend to have a skyward tilt, but Roader seems to capture a pretty level view, based on my time demoing the camera. You can expect up to 7 hours of battery life, though that can drop depending on how frequently you're using the device.
Though Roader looks to differentiate itself from Snapchat's wearable camera, there are some decidedly Spectacles-like features. A ring of light surrounds Roader's camera lens, and those lights spin around to let people know when you're recording. Like Spectacles, Roader records in different resolutions — a 640 x 640 format for easier sharing, and a higher-resolution 1080 x 1080 format for full HD quality. (Roader's videos are square, unlike the much-panned circular format from Spectacles.)
Roader's camera also faces competition from Google Clips, the $249 camera that Google introduced last fall alongside its Pixel 2 smartphones. Google's camera taps into machine learning to automatically start snapping photos of people it recognizes as your family and friends. Again, Pitstra sees that as an advantage for Roader, noting that his camera gives you more control over the clips you decide to capture, while remaining unobtrusive.
Roader is set to ship at the end of spring. At the time of writing, you can pre-order the camera, saving $50 off of its normal $199 price tag.