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GoPro Labs unlocks hidden advanced features for action cam enthusiasts

GoPro is experimenting with a host of powerful features that may be added to its Hero8 Black action camera, but you can gain access to the features now through the new GoPro Labs program. The new platform allows GoPro’s biggest fans to play with features still in development, as well as unlocking others that may never actually make it to a GoPro model.

“It allows us to do some pretty funky things with the camera,” Pablo Lema, GoPro’s Vice President of Product and User Experience, told Digital Trends. “It helps us reach some use cases that are very specific that don’t necessarily have large user bases.”

One of those funky features is the ability to set up a GoPro using a custom QR code. This can be used for all kinds of things, but one niche application is to program a wake-up timer to start recording at a specific time. GoPro demonstrated the usefulness of this with footage from a rocket launch that required cameras to be placed 72 hours in advance, and well out of Wi-Fi range. The cameras waited patiently, turned off and conserving battery power, until the wake-up timer started them up just before the launch.

The custom QR codes could also unlock tasks like motion detection, speed and GPS triggers, custom time-lapses, personalized GoPro settings, saving favorite settings into a custom mode, and increasing the maximum file size from 4 gigabytes to 12GB. GoPro has an online tool for programming custom features and generating the QR code. You then simply point your GoPro camera at your screen.

GoPro Labs also improves support for ReelSteady Go, a company acquired by GoPro earlier this year. With the integration into GoPro Labs, the feature optimizes rolling shutter correction for better stabilization in post using RealSteady software. (This is separate from GoPro’s Hypersmooth stabilization, which works in camera.)

GoPro Labs is free and doesn’t require signing up — customers just need to install the GoPro Labs firmware on a GoPro Hero8 Black, currently the only camera supported. Other modes and features will not be affected by the installation.

GoPro is looking at Labs as more of an “insider look” than a beta program, and is very upfront about its experimental nature. Features available in GoPro Labs may never make it into a camera officially, although should remain within the test platform for those who want to continue using them. Lema confirmed there was “no plan to pull a feature from Labs unless it’s causing an issue.” He added that Labs is an “honest conversation with customers,” and which features make it to the mainstream will depend on feedback as well as the costs to productize them.

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