Issue 71: KAP N900 PUSH Project

What is KAP?

KAP (Kite Aerial Photography) is the art and technique of using large kites to lift cameras and take aerial photographs. It started in 1888, but as one might expect, a few things have changed since then. Advances in electronics brought us digital photography (with lightweight cameras and large capacity memory cards), and today’s kites use new materials that make them lighter and stronger. These are some of the reasons for the increasing popularity of KAP today.

Ricardo Mendonça Ferreira is a software engineer and photographer with a passion for taking aerial pictures with kites. Together with his wife, Henriette Azeredo, they developed a remote controlled KAP system using the Nokia N900 that allows then to receive video from an airborne camera, and also tilt and pan it by just tilting a mobile phone on their hands.

Why you became involved with PUSH and how do you feel your PUSH project has gone?

I started doing KAP in 2005, buying an used kite and building the rest of the equipment myself. Since then I experimented with different kites, techniques and equipment, from the most basic to remote controlled systems including video feedback and motors to pan and tilt the camera with a standard radio control for model airplanes. The problem with such complex design was that it was huge, heavy and complex to use. In the end, it spent more time in the closet than being used…

Fast forward to 2009. I was following the launch of Nokia’s most powerful device yet, the N900. It seemed like the ideal successor for my old and trusty Palm TX PDA due to it being built on the open-source Maemo 5 platform. I felt it also had what it takes to be my next KAP controller: small, lightweight, powerful and easy to program. My plan was to buy the N900 and develop a new KAP system myself, but one day I found out about the Push N900 project: it was a Nokia contest asking people to hack the N900; as in to push its use beyond current conventions. I submitted my idea and a few weeks later it was among the selected projects that Nokia provided with a couple of N900s and some funding to make them come true.

After a few weeks of planning, research and hacking, I finished my project and was invited by Nokia to showcase it in a couple of occasions. The reception was better than I could imagine, and so was the system: it can do what almost all other KAP systems I’ve seen can, plus much more! And hope to keep improving it constantly, since I think this will be an invaluable tool for me from now on.

The PUSH N900 Showcase

I was invited, along with the other four winning teams, to exhibit my KAP control at the PUSH N900 showcase in London. The event was held for press, bloggers and members of the community that had been supporting the PUSH project from the beginning. It was a great success. It gave me a chance to explain in more detail about the KAP project, how it worked, where our inspiration came from and where we plan on taking it in the future.

There’s a great roundup video of the night as a whole here:

PUSH N900 @ Victoria & Albert Museum ‘Decode’ exhibition

The Victoria & Albert is one of London’s most prestigious museums so when Nokia told us they had been invited to exhibit the five finalized PUSH N900 concepts, it was an honour. The Decode exhibition was a collaboration between longtime PUSH friends, OneDotZero and the V&A, showcasing “the latest developments in digital and interactive design, from small, screen-based, graphics to large-scale interactive installations” focusing on three specific areas: code, interactivity and network.

The KAP concept got a great reception from all ages as you can see from the live photo uploads we were pushing to Flickr throughout the weekend. You can check the full set of pictures here:

Additional Media:


PUSH N900 set:

KAPingN900 (live V&A uploads):

Video updates:\

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Author:Ricardo Mendonça Ferreira

Ricardo Mendonça Ferreira is a Brazilian software engineer and photographer with a passion for taking aerial pictures, specially using kites. He has published his work and participated in aerial photography events in Brazil, the USA and the UK.

View Ricardo Mendonça Ferreira's Profile →

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