GoPro Labs - Has anyone tried?

GoPro Labs which has come a long way and looks incredibly useful for Mapillary. Has anyone been using this regularly?

GoPro Labs allows the installation of experimental firmware and the creation of QR codes that can trigger certain settings on the camera. All you have to do is download the experimental firmware, install it on the camera (an easy process), and create your desired QR code. You can define settings for various scenarios and scan them with the camera to enable them. Here are some of the settings that appear relevant to Mapillary:

  1. Motion triggers via IMU and/or GPS to determine when the camera is moving. It looks like you can create pretty complex rules. You could have variable FPS that adjusts relative to the speed of the car to have higher frame-rates at high speed and lower at low speed.

  2. Larger chapters: 12 GB rather than the default 4GB. This could make it easier to manage your files.

  3. Alternate file names: You could set filenames that correspond to the capture location to make reviewing the files later easier. E.g. instead of GH010115.MP4 you could have Ibiza_GH010115.MP4.

  4. USB power trigger: This can turn the GoPro into a dash cam. You could set it up so that it only starts capture when it notices power via your car’s charger.

  5. Precision date and time: I have had whole drives ruined because GoPro reset the date to 2016. Scanning the QR code could prevent this from happening. The QR code updates dynamically, so all you need to do is choose the local time.

  6. GPS=true: You could ensure capture only starts when GPS is active. This would hopefully reduce the number times you’re capturing imagery that can’t be processed due to a lack of GPS.

Some useful features to get started:

My experience so far

I did some initial testing last week and was very happy with it. I used the QRControl app for Android to configure the settings, scanned it with the GoPro Max, and was good to go. The main setting I changed was to start video capture when GPS is at least 4 km/h and to stop when the speed is 0 km/h for more than 8 seconds. This worked really well.

It appears you must scan the QR code each time, so I need to see whether the settings can be made the default after scanning. I’ll also try configuring with the laptop next time to see what additional configurations are useful for the GoPro Max.

3 Likes

yeah, I tried exactly same function as it is most apropriate for photo timelapse. Unfortunately after each stop you should scan QR code again so it is useless and just easier is to remove doubles in postprocessing in mapillary tools.

about loosing sequences due to date reset to 2016: just salvage date from GPS data. It is possible with exiftool

1 Like

I’ll put in a feature request to see if the QR code settings can persist. It seems like a logical addition for GoPro.

Yeah the GPS time flag is very useful, but this used to happen a lot in the days when you had a record a separate GPS track. Which is something some might have to do again now with GoPro deprecating GPS on Hero models.

The short answer is : “no, haven’t tried”.

The longer answer is : it seems cumbersome : either preparing a collection of printed QR codes to hold in front of the lens, or spending time while on the road, typing the desired sequence of events, generating the code, then showing it to the camera - bearing in mind that the sharpest photos / videos will be taken / recorded in bright sunlight, with barely visible smartphone screen.

In summing up : a nice gimmick in the lab, but not practical while on the move <

P.S.: legally, operating a ‘hand-held’ (actually : not securely mounted) smartphone while driving in Belgium currently carries an eight day driving ban, which - at least that was in Sunday’s VRT TV-news bulletin - which will in the near future be increased to immediate confiscation of your driving licence, a fifteen day driving ban, plus a €174 on-the-spot fine; the report specifically mentioned the province of Limburg, but it will apparently apply nationwide.

(technically, you are allowed to operate the phone while it is mounted in a dedicated holder, hold the camera in front of the screen, then remount the camera where it can record whatever; you’d still not be paying due attention while typing etc., though.)

Hence the printed QR codes, as that will obviously not involve operating a smartphone while driving …

I’d say it actually reduces the need to get out your phone. You can have a QR code so that you camera only captures when the car starts moving and stops when the car has been stopped for an extended period of time. You can print out the QR code and have it in your car. That way your turn on the GoPro, scan it, and don’t have to touch it again. No phone involved.

Even with the phone, you don’t need the phone once the QR code has been scanned.

If I can figure out how to get the settings to save, then I’d only need to scan the QR code once and it would be ready for future drives.

Yes, I use GoPro Labs firmware version exclusively for video recording, from which I extract stills for Mapillary. Previously on HERO 8 and now on HERO 12. The main Labs-specific features I need/use are: minimum shutter speed (prefer darker image to blur), higher bitrate (to improve details), no noise reduction (to preserve more details), USB power trust (so it runs off powerbank), larger chapters (mostly for my own sanity). With tweaking these settings, on HERO 12 I can get a video still looking almost as good as a photo. I use QR codes (saved as images on phone) to toggle between some presets before starting recording. Later, I manually extract and post-process my videos and match with separately-recorded GPX tracks (HERO 12 doesn’t have GPS, HERO 8 GPX was all over the place and my phone that I use to navigate anyway is way better). I don’t use the GoPro App.

A note on QR codes - there’s a flag you can set when making the QR code to make it permanent (versus only current session) - this is probably why your QR settings are getting reset.

I wouldn’t use a GoPro as a dashcam simply because it overheats way too fast with no ventilation, worse yet with powerbank/dash power use (even with battery removed) and even worse yet with direct sunlight onto windshield.

3 Likes

Thanks for sharing your experience with it. Great to know there is a permanent flag. I’ll have to give that a go.