Today, Google began selling Clips, a smart camera that was announced in October of 2017. The camera can be purchased from Google’s online store—as well as numerous online retailers—for $249.
Clips is an AI-powered camera that can automatically take pictures when it observes things it deems interesting within its 130-degree field of vision. It runs algorithms to detect people, smiles, and other triggers, and Clips learns over time what you consider most interesting. For example, when your child smiles within its view, Clips might automatically snap an image—or rather, multiple images.
The camera captures a series of images at a rate up to 15 per second and turns them into something that reads a bit like an animated GIF. You can extract individual frames from those images if you prefer still photos. You can also use your camera to take pictures manually, and you can either place your camera in a static location or wear it like a Go Pro.
Here are a couple of sample use cases as illustrated at the device’s unveiling in October, along with some other images of the event, courtesy of Ars editor Ron Amadeo:
Initial reviews suggest that Clips doesn’t always work as intended. The Verge complains of poor image quality and laments the fact that it doesn’t record sound. CNET didn’t mind the capture quality but called it “imperfect” because it missed too many moments that should have been captured. On the other hand, ZDNet was impressed.
Software in Adobe’s suite uses similar machine-learning technology to identify and categorize the best images that have been taken with your camera or video camera, and while it’s not flawless, it works pretty well.
Gamers might recognize Clips as a sort of real-life Prompto; he’s a photographer from the video game Final Fantasy XV who automatically takes pictures of your journey, then periodically asks you which pictures you’d like to keep and which characters you want to prioritize for future photos.
There’s some promise in this technology, but the early verdict seems to be that it’s still not quite there yet. But if you want to try Clips out, now you can.