Fly6, not an action camera, a safety camera

The Fly6 is not yet on the market, but it has already become a roaring success. The Australian inventors, Andrew Hagen and Kingsley Feigert, took the Fly6 to the crowd funding platform Kickstarter to raise $95,000 to get this into production. Within hours their ‘super early bird’ pledge was sold out and after only three days it was funded; they are currently up to $170,000 in funding and still counting.

What makes the Fly6 so special? For starters it’s a really good idea: a compact camera mounted into an LED taillight for your bike. Thankfully this camera has been well thought through and doesn’t try to compete against the growing range of sports action cameras such as GoPro, Sony Action Cam, Contour, Ghost Drift, Garmin, or Shimano.

So why use a camera on the bike if your aim isn’t to capture radical footage and spend hours watching your archived rides? As a safety backup of course. In the case of an accident, you have video footage that can be used as evidence. While very little can be done by the Police if there is an incident without a collision, in the unfortunate event of a collision the video footage can be crucial in backing up your side of the story. Most cyclists who want to capture their ride for the purpose of safety, however, will default to a sports action camera which typically faces forward and, with high resolution filming, you are lucky to get 2 hours recording time. This is not optimal for a safety camera.

Fly6 Rear Light Bicycle Camera

The inventors, both from Perth in Western Australia, decided that filming the view behind you was the way to go with their design, and that makes a good deal of sense. Incorporating a camera into a single unit together with a bright flashing light also makes a good deal of sense. Continuing with the theme of good sense, the camera records 5 hours of footage and then loops, writing over previous footage. This means you don’t need to download and wipe the footage after every ride, and it means you won’t forget. Of course, if there is an accident, the camera includes a mechanism that will turn the unit off after an hour if it is laying on its side, so critical data isn’t lost. The camera is a set-and-forget type of product – just recharge it as you normally would with many of the current generation rear bike lights, strap it on, turn it on, and that’s it.

Fly6 Box

Unpacking Fly6 Kickstarter Bicycle Safety Cam

The Fly6 unit is heavier and bulkier than a regular rear LED bike light. It isn’t cumbersome, however, and the space appears to be used quite well with the face containing one very bright flashing LED, three softer LEDs and, surrounding the integrated camera, a circle of 8 LEDs which ‘spin’ around to signify that the camera is recording. There are two flashing sequences and the intensity of the flashing lights can be dimmed to the point where only the spinning lights (for recording) are illuminated which will suit bunch riding.

Side View Fly6 Safety Camera

Front View Fly6 Safety Camera6_safety_camera

The recording resolution is 720p (1280 x 720 pixels = HD); the inventors decided on this rather than 1080p full HD in order to kept the price down. The resulting video is still sufficiently detailed to be able to decipher most vehicle number plates (more about this below). The camera comes with an 8GB Micro SD card which can be upgraded to a larger (class 10) Micro SD card if desired. Recharging is done either with the power adapter (provided) or a USB cable. At the base of the unit the silicon cap protects the connector for the USB port and also the micro SD card.

Fly6 USB Port Micro SD Card Slot

On a full charge I was able to achieve the claimed 5 hour recording time. One of the unit’s features is that it will stop recording after about 5 hours, when the battery has drained, but while it still has enough charge to power the lights and hopefully get you home.

Fly6 Taillight Flashing Camera

This camera appears to be targeted towards road cyclists and it comes with a range of mounts that will even accommodate aero seat tubes, which are often neglected by many rear LED light manufacturers. In additional, this camera comes with different sized rubber ‘wedges’ for the initial setup of the mount that will ensure that the camera can be mounted appropriately regardless of the seat post angle.

Once this basic setup is complete, the camera and light unit locks onto the mount with two rubber straps that wrap around the seat post to fasten the Fly6 in place. I felt that this could possibly introduce vibration and affect the quality of the video footage, but the results were in fact good and shutter roll (jello effect) was minimal.

Mounting Fly6 Bike Light Camera

The Fly6 camera records in .avi format, a format that has some limitations, particularly on the mac. While VLC Player or DivX player can read and play the .avi format, the play and pause didn’t work very well, nor did shuffling (or jogging) through the footage to stop at a particular keyframe. The .avi video was difficult to convert on mac without a serious impact on the footage quality. On Windows, .avi will be easier to work with and edit. Although the Fly6 isn’t masquerading as a sports action cam, the ability to more easily use the video footage would be welcomed as this would make it easier to share shortened sequences.

The footage quality for the legibility of number plates is, in my opinion, the deciding factor for the Fly6, and I was able to decipher almost all of the number plates I recorded. Difficult light conditions, such as direct sunlight or even rain, will make it harder, but most cameras will have issues in these circumstances. If you consider a scenario where you really needed to identify a vehicle, the make and model will be comparatively easy to determine, and picking out just a few characters of the number plate should provide sufficient information for the authorities to make an identification.

Fly6 Car Numberplate Evidence Accident

In this example, the video-still is scaled and the number plate is displayed in the original size. The vehicle number plates are displayed as unordered series of screen-shots from different key frames. As an example of one of the more difficult-to-read number plates, the characters can still be identified when required. For the record, this vehicle and numberplate has been selected purely for demonstration.

Naughty Driver Car Accident

In this second example, the motorist was in fact naughty (not aware of the safe passing distance required) and edged me over while overtaking. The large bright numberplate and favourable light conditions made the numberplate identification simple. The ‘original size’ numberplate is displayed in the top right while the screen-shots have been scaled to fit. The time stamp imprinted on the video is an important and useful addition although I had not set successfully setup the correct time in this example.

Other candidates who were testing a pre-production unit have pinpointed the issue of low seat posts which provided limited or no space to mount the Fly6, particularly if a saddle bag obscures the view. While this can’t be easily resolved, if you are a low-rider then keep this in mind.

After returning from a rainy ride, I noticed that some water had leaked past the silicon cap. Although a droplet was on the Micro SD card, I was able to clean it off and let it dry without any adverse effect. This is something I will keep an eye on.

While higher quality footage and improved details would be desirable, it would come at a cost. When the Fly6 goes to market in May this year it will have a very accessible retail price of $169. If you get involved and support the Fly6 kickstarter project, they still have ‘pledges’ for less than this, currently $129 (plus $10 shipping).

Further information about this product and video examples are on the website: www.fly6.com



Product Details:

Fly6 Taillight and HD Camera (RRP $ 169)

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Christopher Jones
About The Author

Christopher Jones is a recreational cyclist and runs a professional design business, Signale. As the driving force behind Bicycles.net.au he has one of each 'types' of bicycles.

14 Responses to “Fly6, not an action camera, a safety camera”

  1. ANTHONY Howarth says:

    I would like to get one as I have been victim of cars dusting me on dirt roads and run off the road as well.

  2. Stickman says:

    Just ordered one from Kickstarter, good to support a local Perth business. Also some peace of mind for my wife who worries now I’m cycle commuting.

  3. jj bonneville says:

    ordering mind and having it shipped this summer to me in the states!

  4. Chris Lipski says:

    So is it available for purchase yet?

  5. Available for Pre-order and Fly6 are estimating deliver in June – so not long to go.

  6. Joe Mayer says:

    In all the hype about security what seems to be forgotton is that the privacy of each individual is being massively attacked. Its like google glass on every bike recording what happens behind you. Image you walk with a person who is not your partner through town and at a pedestrian crossing you are filmed. Or you were picking your nose, like in a demo vidoe. The fly6 owner sees this and sells it to the press (if you are interesting). Or posts it on facebook. Once the image is out the damage is done.

    And how do you want to prove in court that you did not manipulate the video, lets face it there are enough tools around for proffessional video editing.

    Do we really want Orwell’s 1984??

    Individually this might be a good idea, but in a overall view of things this device is not a good idea at all. And in Germany for example Dashcams or Bikecams are going to be banned, for good reason.

  7. I don’t agree at all. Have a look at camcorders which have been about for a few decades. They give the operaters the same access as any journalist & cameraman. What about smart phones or digital cameras?

    If a person intended to film others, then the fly6 is not suited – there are other compact camera’s which do a much better job if this is the intention.

    The point of this camera is that it is a backup device as a motor vehicle and bike collision traditionally relies on the statements of each party (if the cyclist was able to escape serious injury or death). Video evidence provides a reliable source of information to confirm the details of a collision and can remove doubt with contradictory stories.

    If there was any doubt about the integrity of the video, an expert would be able to quite easily spot manipulation.

    In Germany bikecam footage has been accepted in court as evidence and while the topic of the legality is a discussion, I have not come across any information that confirms that they are banning these. In Austria however Dashcams are banned.

    In favour of the Fly6 – the basic function is recording video and then wiping over older video which somewhat negates the suggestion that there is any connection with the ’1984′ scenario when using the Fly6.

  8. GreatScott2000 says:

    Its not illegal to film on public roads. Its all about what you do with the video afterwards.

    Publishing on social media might cause you problems, but using video for prosecuting irresponsible road users, not an issue under relevant legislation, Privacy or Road Act in any state.

    You might want to do research “Joe Mayer” before you make over the top statements.

  9. Craig says:

    The kind folks at Fly Lites have donated Team MAMILS – Middle Aged Men In Lycra a brand new ‪Fly6‬ to help them get to their fundraising target of $50,000 for the Perth Ride to Conquer Cancer
    If you want to get your hands on one before all your mates…NOW IS THE TIME!!! 100% OF THE PROCEEDS GO DIRECTLY TO THE HARRY PERKINS INSTITUTE OF MEDICAL RESEARCH BID NOW!!!! http://bit.ly/MAMILS-Fly6

  10. […] the recent success of the Fly6 is any indication, the Backtracker is well on its way to funding. It’s also a good example of […]

  11. A tip for people who have purchased a Fly6 light. Depending on whether you purchased through Kickstarter or direct, you will get a 16GB or an 8GB Stronium micro SD card.

    A number of people, including myself have experienced that the video recording time is quite short (just over 2 hours with my 8GB card).

    The solution is a complete (full) format – on the mac and PC the free software SDFormatter will do formatting (google will show you where to download, it is directly from SD Association).

    After formatting my recording time increased to ca. 6 hours – obviously it only then can record video footage to the capacity of the card (and overwrites old footage) so take this into consideration if you prefer to document longer journeys completely (a larger capacity, fast micro SD card is needed).

  12. Simon says:

    Is there any plans for a front mount version pls advise?

  13. In the Australian Cycling Forums there is speculation and discussion with the name Fly12. At Eurobike, Fly6 unveiled a more compact version with better optics, so an upgrade of the rear mounted. But it is successful – if I hear news I will post it.

    http://www.bicycles.net.au/forums/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=37405&p=1168943#p1168943

  14. Con Passalis says:

    Joe Mayer obviously has never been compromised by a car whilst riding a bike.if I had these devices 10 years ago I could have proven the guilt of a motorist who had a gripe with cyclist in general and my group just happened to cop the brunt.
    Fortunately we weren’t hurt but reprimanded the culprits at the next lights.My mate pulled out his Special forces police badge and warned them.
    In my opinion these devices make people accountable for their actions which is what we were taught at school.

    Cheers
    Con Passalis

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