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With help from GoPro, BMW makes cinéma vérité

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Our species’ compulsion to document every aspect of its over-examined existence continues apace.

The latest proof comes from BMW and its work with GoPro, the action-sports camera manufacturer. Camera-control integration is now possible for all BMW and Mini models equipped with the ConnectedDrive or Mini Connected interface.

This is a good thing, as a GoPro mounted to a car is unlikely to be used to capture anything unnecessarily personal, and the results probably won’t be dull to watch.

It works through the GoPro app on an Apple iPhone connected to the car’s infotainment system. The camera links to the phone via wi-fi, and a media cable connects the phone to the car’s infotainment system. The camera can mount anywhere inside or outside the car, letting drivers record whatever view they choose.

The connections let the camera’s view stream in real time to the dashboard display, so the driver can adjust its view as needed – but once underway, the software wisely blocks the video stream so a driver’s eye doesn’t stray from the road ahead.

On screen (and again, only when the vehicle is stopped) a driver can toggle among six preset camera modes, each choice optimising the camera’s exposure and other settings to suit shooting conditions. A driver starts and stops recording using the car’s normal iDrive controller, rather than having to fiddle with the app on the iPhone screen. The camera’s status indicators for battery life, recording time and wi-fi signal strength are all visible on the car’s display screen.

BMW is not the first carmaker to tap enthusiasts’ interest in recording their adventures and misadventures. When it hit the US market, the 252-horsepower Ford Focus ST was initially offered with a GoPro HD Hero2 Motorsports Edition camera pack. And though it is not a GoPro-based solution, Chevrolet has previewed a built-in camera for the Corvette Stingray that will capture the road ahead and overlay performance data gathered from the car’s various sensors to correlate performance with the car’s video. BMW’s GoPro system lacks that data-rich user experience, but gives the driver the flexibility to shoot whatever angle they want.

That’s a key distinction, according to Kevin O’Leary, marketing manager for GoPro. He declined to discuss GoPro’s plans for similar integration with other carmakers’ products, but given manufacturers’ hand-wringing over how to capture a younger customer base, more link-ups can’t be far behind.