Contour's hands-free video camera marks location as it records

Contour is introducing a hands-free video camera today that can mark your location as it records high-definition video.

The ContourGPS video camera has global positioning system (GPS) navigation built into it. The camera, which comes with goggles attached, is targeted at outdoor enthusiasts who like to take video while they’re on hikes, skydiving, or otherwise doing something that requires they have both of their hands free. Users can share videos online with a community of like-minded adventurers and can share stories about their videos. The site combines video playback with an online map.

The product is a cool gadget that foretells how video and location technology are going to spread in the future. Marc Barros (right), chief executive of Contour, formerly known as VHoldR, said that GPS allows explorers to map their own adventures and discover new places posted by other users. It’s like combining a Flip video camera, the YouTube user-generated video site, and Google Maps together into a single easy-to-use product, Barros said.

Contour GPS captures location once per second with high accuracy. It comes with Contour Storyteller, an application for the Mac or PC that lets you edit and organize your videos. The Seattle company’s web site, Contour.com, will let users watch a ski run down a mountain while tracking its progress, speed and elevation on a map.

“We call this new form of storytelling “Video Mapping” said Barros. “The inclusion of GPS brings a whole new level of context to any video, making location, speed, time, and conditions as important as what you recorded.”

The company is targeting the estimated 100 million outdoor enthusiasts around the world. It’s new camera costs $349 and will be shipping worldwide in the coming days on web sites such as Amazon.com, Helmet Camera Central, and POV Cameras.

Contour started out as VholdR, making cameras for outdoor enthusiasts. It was founded by Barros and another colleague in 2004 as part of an entry into a University of Washington business plan competition. The company won third place and $20,000. It has 35 employees. Rivals include hands-free camera maker GoPro. Barros said the company is profitable and has had a string of successful outdoor cameras. The company raised $1 million at the end of 2007 from angel investors and made it onto the Inc. 500 list this year, at No. 183, by growing revenues 1,500 percent over three years.