New INCA mini-camera gives metadata on your favorite athletes

We see plenty of pictures of athletes pushing their physical boundaries every day, but it's difficult to know what they're really feeling from pictures alone. That's why researchers at Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS have created a super small, intelligent camera that can record other metadata aside from just HD images and video. They're calling it INCA, and it's an Android based camera that comes complete with "a diversity of sensors that provide data on GPS position, acceleration, temperature and air pressure."

It's easily mounted on a helmet, allowing viewers to see the events through the athlete's eyes. It isn't limited to what it can do by its tiny size, however, as it also comes with the ability to connect wirelessly to other devices through Bluetooth or WLAN. This means an athlete could connect the camera to a harness to track heart rate, and the INCA can also work with "object recognition and voice detection systems."

Of course, the hardware it comes equipped with only skims the surface. Since it's Android-based, the INCA can meet the needs of many different situations through apps. Fraunhofer says that the camera is "powerful enough to handle professional film and TV productions" and process that video in real-time despite its small, 2x2x8 cm size. Don't let the size fool you however, as the INCA is capable of handling less-than-pleasant conditions. The INCA can handle bouts with sand, dust and cold, which means that it isn't going to cut out if athletes are using it to broadcast an extreme sports competition.

Wolfgang Thieme, who managed the group of researchers that developed INCA, says that the camera can offer so much while being so small because of its OMAP (Open Multimedia Applications Platform) processor. "As the heart of the camera, this is comparable to a CPU that you find in any ordinary PC," Thieme said. "The difference is that additional function blocks for various tasks have been integrated into the OMAP. Without these blocks, the system would neither record HD video images nor process and issue them in real time."

INCA isn't available at the moment, and Fraunhofer's announcement gives no indication of when it will be. The announcement does say that attendees of IBC in Amsterdam will be able to try it out though, so we'll be keeping an eye out for more news around then. Stay tuned, because this could potentially give us a new and interesting way to watch sports.