Horizon, a $499 combination dash / action camera from a startup called Waylens, is a decidedly niche product. People who want a high-quality mobile camera will probably be better off with something that has an ecosystem behind it, like a GoPro or a Sony Action Cam, for example. But if you’re performance car owner or enthusiast — especially the kind who spends time on a track — or you were already thinking about getting a dash cam, then the Waylens Horizon is a new kind of hybrid option. The small startup completed a Kickstarter campaign for the camera late last year, but general preorders start today, and the cameras ship later this fall.
The camera has top-of-the-line guts for something of its size. It uses a 1/1.8-inch Sony sensor — which is bigger than the 1/2.3-inch version found in GoPro’s Hero 5 Black — as well as an Ambarella processor. These, paired with an f2.4 lens, help produce high-quality video, even during night driving. On the back of the camera is a 286 ppi OLED touchscreen, which can display a live view or a number of different real-time statistics like speed, RPM, pitch and roll, G-force, and even boost levels (if your car is properly equipped).
The Horizon tops out at 1080p (at 60 frames per second) — there’s no 4K here. But that’s not really what Waylens is meant for, anyway. The Horizon camera is more about always-on shooting, the data that’s collected while it’s filming, and how it puts the two together in the final, shareable video.
The camera has a GPS unit and motion sensors, and it comes with a dongle that can plug into your car’s OBD-II port to give the camera access to even more data. The cone-shaped Horizon mounts to your dash or your windshield and can draw its power from either a USB port or the cigarette lighter socket. The camera has a battery if you want to use it on the go, too, but when it’s plugged in it has the capability of recording constantly — when it’s plugged in, the camera will fire up every time you start your car. (It records on a buffer, meaning it will throw out part of the recording after a certain amount of time. You can change the size of the buffer in the settings.)
While it’s rolling, you can either manually tag the clips you want to save (using a Bluetooth Low Energy remote on your steering wheel) or let the camera tag them automatically based on data it’s pulling in. For example, the camera would know from the G-force data whether or not you slammed on the brakes, and it would save that clip accordingly.
Where Waylens could stand out from the dash (and action) cam crowd is on the platform side of things. Drivers film their track runs all the time and post the footage to YouTube or Facebook. Waylens isn’t the only camera that allows data overlays, but the company also built a social side of the app that lets you post that data-rich footage in a place where everyone else is posting similar stuff. The potential of that is great. Like how fitness apps now let skiers and snowboarders track, share, and compare their runs on the mountain, Waylens could become the place to brag about what drivers are doing with their cars — on or off the track.