The Shutterbug Remote

by Michael Wieckowski

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What’s A “Shutterbug Remote”?

The Shutterbug Remote (www.shutterbugremote.com) is a remote control for your camera that connects wirelessly to a smartphone or tablet using the latest Bluetooth LE technology.  From up to 300 feet away, you can focus the lens and trigger the shutter using the free app.  Along with these basic camera controls, the Shutterbug Remote also offers many of the features found in high end professional intervalometers.  These features enable you to create complex exposures and sequences for time-lapse movies, night photographs, “painting with light” scenes, high-dynamic range brackets, wide angle nature shots, and time delayed portraits.

 

What Makes It So Great?

Camera remotes are nothing new, ranging from five dollar switches with long wires attached, to several hundred dollar radio transceivers.  The Shutterbug Remote falls in the middle of this spectrum, giving the majority of users the best value for their dollar.  It achieves this by leveraging their smartphone or tablet as the user interface, providing a professional feature set and interactive experience with only a minimal investment in hardware.

When comparing the Shutterbug Remote to other units on the market, there are several key differentiators you’ll want to keep in mind.  These items define why the Shutterbug Remote is so great:

  1. Runs independently of your phone or tablet.  Once you set it up and tell it to take a photo, you can shut your phone off and walk away.  It will continue to run for months doing whatever you asked of it.
  2. Wireless range of 300 feet, line of sight NOT required.  Works through walls, ceiling, trees, etc.
  3. Amazingly small and light.  Only 1.4 x 2.75 x 0.7 inches and weighing a mere 0.77 oz with the battery!
  4. Connects using the shutter release port (no USB connection, no proprietary camera protocol, no hot-shoe contact.)  This makes it widely compatible with nearly every digital SLR on the market released within the last 15+ years.
  5. Basic camera controls: Focus, Shutter, and Bulb
  6. Advanced controls: Delay, Interval, Long Exposure, Ramp, and Mirror Lockup
  7. Status monitoring any time you reconnect to the Shutterbug Remote.  See what it is up to and how many shots are remaining in that long time-lapse you started last week!
  8. The only professional camera remote with open source hardware and software.  The Shutterbug API, schematic, and source code are all available online.  Expect to see plenty of cool new apps and mods made by third party developers.
  9. Designed, manufactured, and distributed in the U.S.A.

 

What Can’t It Do?

We want to be upfront about the design choices we made when inventing the Shutterbug Remote.  Our primary goal was to make something easy to use, small, and light.  This meant no rechargeable batteries, no buttons, no hot-shoe connection, and scaled down processing capabilities.  This let us create a device that satisfied the vast majority of users while keeping cost and complexity to a minimum.  So here are a few things we are often asked about that the Shutterbug Remote cannot do:

  1. It cannot send a preview of the photo back to your phone or tablet.
  2. It cannot read back shutter information from your camera’s SYNC port or hot-shoe.
  3. It cannot perform proprietary / complex functions for your brand camera over USB.
  4. It cannot control video functions for cameras that offer it.

It’s also worth mentioning here that Google will not support Bluetooth LE on its Android phones until the next release, likely this July or August.  So for now, we only have an iOS version of the app.  Once the Android API is released, we’ll have a developer working on a new version of the app immediately

 

Why Do We Need Your Help?

The Shutterbug Remote is already in it’s third revision of hardware and fourth revision of the iOS app.  Many of them have been sold or demo’d to professional and amateur photographers alike throughout the United States (and even a few in Australia and Canada.)  The app has been downloaded several hundred times and reviewed by several blogs and tech websites.  The response so far has been nothing short of fantastic.

So why do we need help?  We want to take the Shutterbug Remote to the next level.  To do this, we need to generate sizable demand and partner with local manufacturing facilities.  As a small startup company, this isn't easy.  In addition, there are millions of photographers out there who have never heard of the Shutterbug Remote, BluetoothLE, or even wireless camera triggering.  Getting the word out is key, and exposure costs money.  Our goal is to use the help we get from the Crowdit community to generate enough orders for a large production run.  The proceeds from this can then be used for advertising, hiring of more developers, and engineering of new hardware features.  Without your help, none of this would be possible.

 

Who’s Involved?

Until today, the Shutterbug Remote has been a one man operation.  Michael Wieckowski, a Ph.D. Electrical Engineer, brought it to life from the basic concept through to the first sales on Amazon.com.  This included designing and assembling the hardware, writing the firmware, developing the iPhone and iPad applications, and marketing the results.  By bringing “the crowd” on board, he hopes to expand the Shutterbug venture to include other engineers, programmers, and designers.

 

So What’s The Plan?

The plan is to launch the Shutterbug Remote by manufacturing at least 500 of them.  We’re going to finance this by pre-selling them on this website for only $69.  This saves you $10 off the list price and gives us the funds needed to secure a production run.  Of course, if we can sell more than 500, that’s even better.  This would let us hire additional engineers, developers, and designers to get started on the next wave of Shutterbug Apps for iOS, Android, etc.  The timeline we’re aiming for looks like this:

  1. June - Crowdit launch with a completed Shutterbug Remote design ready for manufacturing.
  2. August - Reach our funding goal and partner with local companies to manufacture the electronics, plastics, and packaging.
  3. September - begin shipping all of the presale orders and begin development of the next generation apps
  4. October and beyond - release new apps and begin development of new products