How Helmet Cameras Work

Sports Uses for Helmet Cams

The first time I saw a helmet camera in action was at my son's T-ball game, atop the enormous batting helmet of a 4-year-old as he rounded the bases for the first time ever. Although I'm sure his parents had a regular camera rolling in tandem, the helmet version forever captured his teeny-tiny perspective on that most important of days.

Back in 1991, World League of American Football quarterback Kerwin Bell was the first pro player to don a helmet camera during a game, effectively letting the audience in on the action as he called plays, scored touchdowns and evaded sacks [source: Schmitz]. Critics and players ended up rejecting the use of the technology for years, citing the potential for cheating (knowing the other team's plays) and bulk of the device itself. In 2015, it appears that the tide is turning on this school of thought, though, with arena football leagues employing live-action helmet cameras to thrill audiences [source: Ecker]. College football officials also plan to implement the technology, although more in an effort to improve coaching, since it will allow staff to see exactly what players do, making play calls easier [source: Associated Press].

Most sports enthusiasts who use helmet cams are of the adrenaline rush variety. They careen down mountains on skis or bikes, through the clouds with their parachutes and across highways on their hogs, capturing every daredevil second along the way. Taking such footage is a way to re-live the thrills and scenery, share them with friends and family, and also an ideal method for capturing unique images of wildlife and other cool sights without having to actually stop and whip out an actual camera.

Of course, some people enjoy tempting fate, as in the case of this cyclist who leaned in and let a rattlesnake attack his helmet cam. For the record, we advise against that (All together now: Shudder). Helmet cams also allow people to capture behavior that would be otherwise difficult to fully describe, as with the case of a scuba diver who recorded his entire interaction with a curious, 12-foot (4-meter) great white shark, which he had to poke with his spear several times before he went along his merry sharky way [source: Algar].

Some extreme athletes take helmet cams to the next level, using them as fundraising tools. Jump4Heros raises funds for charities that provide support to armed forces. The team's skydivers upload breathtaking videos to show would-be donors the extraordinary lengths they go to in support of these causes [source: Coldwell].