HydroView & AquaLens, say hello to Aquabotix

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Sep 23, 2011

How neat would it be to launch an HD-video-camera-equipped underwater ROV off your boat to check out running gear, your mooring, or just whatever the heck is down there? And wouldn't it make sense to view the results on an iPad, and even control the ROV's movements largely by tilting and turning the pad? Yes, it sounds like a megayacht toy -- and it might make a good one -- but a brand new Massachusetts company called Aquabotix is hoping for a wider market...

The 19-inch long ROV is called HydroView and while I saw its little props spinning at the Newport Boat Show, it's not quite ready to ship yet and the developers weren't yet demonstrating the iPad app. And though the screenshot below is clearly a simulation, I still think the iPad is the way to go, instead of paying for a separate monitor or awkwardly using an MFD as I did with a SplashCam Deep Blue. The HydroView basic model is set to retail for $2,995 with a pro model that can hover for more, but maybe Aquabotix can get these prices down eventually given that the controls and monitor are an app...


The company is also introducing a much simpler $795 underwater pole camera (something like this AquaCam and the Scubar series) which shares the same hydrodynamic camera pod design, built-in LED lighting, etc. It's called AquaLens and while it's cleverly designed to use your book hook as the pole, it does come with a 3.5-inch LCD screen as well as video output. In Newport, the developers were demonstrating optional pole handles so you could maneuver the AquaLens under a boat and the video output had a neat wireframe overlay that defined the size and scale of the viewing area, which is an issue with underwater cameras. My bet is that demos will get better and better as Aquabotix displays next at IBEX and then at the Fort Lauderdale Show.



For a quick running gear inspection after hitting driftwood, I attached my waterproof Olympus Stylus camera to a boat hook, started the self timer, and aimed the camera with the boat hook. It took a few tries, but I got clear photos of both props and determined there was no need for a haul out. This camera has served us well on numerous saltwater beach and snorkeling trips without problems. The camera costs less the $200 and requires no housing.

Posted by: PENPE at September 23, 2011 4:39 PM | Reply

I suspect that my sub $200 HD Hero Cam might be easily pressed into similar duty. Bought it at COSTCO and have amazing video of diving at Cozumel last winter. EASY to imagine lots of simple boat hook-based applications to get it where one needs it.

Posted by: T. D. Boyd at September 23, 2011 5:46 PM | Reply

@PENPE, I did something similar with my Panasonic Lumix TS3. After trying to figure out a good solution for clamping it to the end of the boat hook, I realized I could just use the Gorillapod I already had. I just wrap the Gorillapod's legs around the boat hook (locking them down with a zip tie if the anchorage is deep), then turn on video recording and sweep the hook around under the boat.


Posted by: Adam at September 25, 2011 1:00 AM | Reply

Seems very pricey...I got an underwater video cam with Sony CCD ,LED's out of Hong Kong for about $250...good to 50 meters with cable....what does another $500 get me here aside from the pole mount?

Posted by: Peter at September 25, 2011 10:35 AM | Reply

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