It’s no secret that the iPhone’s flash has never been great. Apple is rumoured to be bolstering flash performance by adding a dual LED to the forthcoming iPhone 5S (or whatever the new flagship ends up being called) but dual LED flashes are no panacea for fixing smartphone low light photography — they can even make over-exposure worse, being as there’s a greater risk of washing out the photo with a more powerful flash. Fixing in the edit is one way to get round this, via Instagram et al’s filters. But what if you just want to take a decent iPhone shot in the dark from the off? Step forward Nova: a credit-card-sized, wireless external flash with adjustable light temperature so you can snap better-looking photos in shadowy environments.
Nova is not the first external flash aiming to improve on what Apple provided. It follows in the footsteps of iblazr, for instance, a plug-in external flash for iPhone that made use of the phone’s headphone jack to extend the flash capabilities. But Nova is using Bluetooth so it doesn’t have to be fixed in position — allowing the user to position it by hand to get the most flattering light on their subject. Nova can be used up to 20 feet away from phone — assuming you can get a friend to hold it beyond arm’s length, while you snap the shot.
Nova’s creators have taken to Kickstarter to crowdfund $25,000 to offset manufacturing costs — which means the device shown in the video above is still a prototype, so expect some tweaking of the final product. The flash light level will be controlled via an app — allowing the user to select different light colour temperatures, from cool to warm to brilliant. The app will also include an advanced mode where you can customise the colour temperature further, making use of the full spectrum of Nova’s 40 individual light points (65 lumen, white LEDs).
Nova’s battery will last four weeks on standby between charges (it charges by micro USB), and be good for up to 150 flashes on a single charge — depending on brightness and flash duration. If the device gets enough backing to make it to market its creators plan on releasing open source SDK libraries so developers can make apps that integrate with Nova using the Bluetooth Low Energy protocol.
An Android app for Nova is also on the roadmap — albeit, the device will only work with Android 4.3 (or later) devices (owing to Bluetooth LE support). Nova is being offered to early bird Kickstarter backers for $49, after which it rises to $54. Shipping date for backers is anticipated as February 2014.