Foolography just launched a Kickstarter campaign for the Unleashed ‘22, a device for controlling timelapses, long exposures, and geotagging on most mirrorless cameras and DSLRs from Canon, Nikon, Sony, Fujifilm and Panasonic.  We had a chance to interview the founder, Oliver Perialis to discuss the project.

About the Project

The Interview

Please introduce yourself

I’m Oliver Perialis, Founder of Foolography and inventor of the Unleashed. I’m half German, half Greek, but I grew up in Tanzania in East Africa. I came back to Germany to study computer science, and have been a photography enthusiast ever since I got my Dad’s old Nikon cameras and manual Lenses when he upgraded his gear. I love to travel and have been on all continents except Antarctica.

Oliver Foolography

How did you come up with the idea? What was the inspiration?

It all started in 2006 when I wanted a solution to geotag my travel photos effortlessly, but there was nothing viable on the market. After making prototypes of a Bluetooth module for geotagging for myself and friends, I got so much interest online and later at photokina 2008, that I founded Foolography GmbH. The Unleashed ’09 was built and launched in 2009. Over the years, I got lots of feedback from customers, and since I was using the Unleashed myself every day, I was in essence my own best customer ;-) As smartphones grew so much more capable, it was natural to want to connect this to the Unleashed, and that would open a world of opportunities for the Unleashed. I also started getting interested in Timelapses and realised that an Unleashed together with an app would be the perfect tool for this. So we started the first kickstarter campaign in 2016, delivered in 2018, and have been working on this newest version for 5 different camera brands ever since.

The newest features, with our Gallery and photo sharing, was inspired by the fact that I found myself using my iPhone camera so much more than I wanted to, and leaving my real camera in my bag, simply because I could share the images with friends and family or social media. Now, with the Unleashed’s Gallery and high resolution previews, that’ll be possible even with your Mirrorless, or DSLR!

Gallery sharingWhat problem does your product solve?

Primarily, the lack of decent apps from the camera manufacturers. They have all the tools at their disposal, but none of the manufacturers apps are any good. The worst is getting them to connect in the first place. Even as a professional working with Wireless connections every day, it took me several hours to get the first connection up and running on more than one of the camera brands. Yes, even in 2021! Once you do manage to connect, the apps are OK, but focus entirely on Live-view, rather than controlling the camera.

The Unleashed’s primary focus was being absolutely user-friendly, and having full control over your camera. It pairs in seconds, and stays connected in the background, or reconnects when you turn on the camera or open the app. That means it’s always ready when you want to use it, meaning that you’ll actually use it.

Any other camera accessory is usually a big device sitting on top of the hotshoe with cables connecting it to the camera. These are always in your way, when using the camera but also when packing it into your bag. And they pose a risk to your camera ports – the lever-effect of the long plugs and stiff cables put enormous forces on the tiny sockets in the camera. We’ve had several customers switching to the Unleashed after such experiences and costly repairs when using other devices. The Unleashed is designed to stay flat and snug on the side of the camera, and its cable is really short and flexible, with extremely low-profile, right-angled plugs, So you can leave it on the camera at all times, even when packing it in your bag, and it’ll never get in your way while shooting!

Lastly, one big thing, that makes the Unleashed so small – it doesn’t have a battery, and therefore doesn’t need to be charged! This means it can really always stay on your camera, it’ll never be out of battery, or left at home on the charger. It’s probably a variant of Murphy’s law for gadgets: If a device has a battery, it’s empty when you need it most. That doesn’t apply to the Unleashed!

Banana for scale

Who is the target market for your product?

Photography Enthusiasts. Anytime the camera is on a tripod, the Unleashed is invaluable, as it gives you full control over the camera but you don’t have to touch it.

But with its huge featureset, it’s basically for anyone that uses a mirrorless camera or DSLR. It’s ideal for Selfies and other tripod shots, or starting videos remotely, long exposures for Astrophotography and Lightpainting, and for even the most advanced Timelapses. And thanks to geotagging, it’s perfect for travel photography.

Janis Berliner Dom no flap

What is the next step after the release of this product?

After finalising the product development and getting to mass production, we’ll keep improving on this product line with firmware and app updates, but of course also have other great ideas for future camera accessories – some that fit really well with the Unleashed, and others that go in a different direction.

What was the biggest challenge in developing this product?

Reverse Engineering the camera protocols. There’s a protocol standard for how almost all cameras communicate over USB, but almost none of the camera manufacturers really stick to this standard. They all do their own thing on top of this protocol. Several brands only recently started offering SDKs for their cameras, and sadly only did so for their latest cameras. But since we implement everything in a tiny microprocessor inside the Unleashed, we can’t use these SDKs that are written for Windows or MacOS. Only Nikon has a full documentation of the low level Protocol – for all other Brands we had to figure out almost everything on our own.

On the Hardware side: finding the right plugs that we could use in our Unleashed. Almost all plugs you find on the market are designed to be soldered onto the end of cables. The few that can be soldered onto PCBs are usually in line with the PCB – such as on USB sticks. That’s unacceptable for us, as we wanted the Unleashed to be as flat as possible on the side of your camera, so we needed plugs to solder vertically onto the PCBs. For our Unleashed N1 and N2, we designed the plugs ourselves, and had to get them completely custom made, which was a long and costly process. The previous generation Unleashed’18 C1 and C2 had two plugs where we made a complex design with flexible PCB twisted into place, so the distance between those two plugs could be varied. While it worked really well, and we were really proud of accomplishing this, it was a little difficult to mass-produce. It also meant that the user was limited to using this model on the cameras that had a very similar Socket layout. The Unleashed ’18 C1 for example was only compatible with 4 different camera models.

Unleashed on Nikon dawn closer autoramp app focus

Where can we find more information about the product/company? (website, social, etc)