Podo is a ‘Stick-and-Shoot’ wireless camera launched on Kickstarter last month, which reached their US$50,000 goal in just 16 hours and exceeded it by 600% in 23 days. Compared with existing selfie photo taking solutions, Podo camera is not only replacing stranger-free photo taking experience, but also is a stand alone “stick and shoot” camera.

The user can simply place Podo on any surface, preview the shot on your mobile phone’s screen and take a picture, video, or time-lapse. The photos are then transferred to your phone via Bluetooth. The camera sticks to nearly anything and works seamlessly with its smartphone app. With its capacity of shooting up to 300-500 photos, the camera can record up to two hours of full 720p HD video, can be charged with a micro USB or via the same cable for Android phones. Besides its slick design, it features 8MP images, eight LED lights, on-board 4GB memory and a rechargeable lithium battery. 

“Podo is the first smart camera on the market that has a mission to put you back in front of the camera,” PodoLabs co-founder and CEO Jaehoon Choi said, pointing out that, “There are similar cameras like Go-Pro, but since they work on WiFi and not Bluetooth, they are not great in terms of live preview and battery life. Our Bluetooth-powered camera allows you to have a live preview option as well as making it easy to track your camera if it gets lost.”

Podo developer PodoLabs received pre-seed funding in 2013 from Plug & Play Tech Center, then received $1.1M funding from renowned Silicon Valley angel investor Highway1, Kima Ventures and FuturePlay which enabled them to access Korean Government grants for the seed round. As a graduate of the hardware accelerator Highway1 program, PodoLabs was selected by PCH, Highway1’s parent company. PCH works with Apple, Beats by Dr.Dre and Square and serves as a one-stop shop and supply chain company in Shenzhen for hardware startups. The company is currently helping PodoLabs’ manufacturing and logistics: namely managing the whole process of certification, distribution, shipping and finding retail partners. As of 2014, PodoLabs has raised a total of US$2m seed funding.

The company recently received an undiscovered amount from London based accelerator Seedcamp and BonAngels, 1can network and an angel investor, and they are still looking to raise pre-series A before their official launch.

Some might question whether Podo could be used as a spycam. However, Choi noted that, “Podo is designed in bright colors – satin blue, red, white, black and gold; and is limited to shooting up to ten meters away due to Bluetooth coverage. Also, when a photo or video is taken, eight LEDs shine to let you know it’s shooting. Accordingly, we believe Podo won’t be used for this.” 

Podo product

Why Podo, why not use your hand or a selfie stick?
Back in May 2013, three UC Berkeley grads, Sam, Eddie and Jaehoon were in Plug & Play Incubation program, working on a different product. When the three met in a cafe, Eddie opened Snapchat and looked at their awful selfies, which all looked the same and were taken from the same angles. They thought there should be a better way to take a selfie – which was the moment when the idea for Podo was born.

Affordable at just US$99, it is however double the price of selfie sticks retailing at US$45-50 in the US. However, Choi points that it’s a different market that they are targeting.

At a Christmas party hosted by noted VCs in Korea, Podo’s camera was first exposed in the presence of many guests. The event was a bit too formal to use a selfie stick, rather you would wait for a professional photographer to take your photos. Podo was a big hit that night, when Choi simply stuck Podo Camera on a pillar to take a photo of attendees holding wine glasses.

“After the KickStarter project closes on April 21 2015, Podo will be available through our website. We will carefully select retailers and for now, we’re looking to have co-branding opportunities with big companies,” Choi said. “We’ll enter English-speaking countries first, namely, the US, Canada and the UK. There have been a lot of requests from companies in mainland China and we want to partner up with a local company to promote Podo and have it available in China and Asia as soon as possible.”

Photo Credit: Podo Labs

Editing by Mike Cormack (@bucketoftongues)

Eva Yoo is Shanghai-based tech writer. Reach her at evayoo@technode.com

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