Thursday, May 10, 2007

Needed: voice tracking webcam

We recently acquired Logitech's motion tracking webcam in order to better capture presentations, discussions, and training sessions. In case you are interested, the camera is the Logitech QuickCam Orbit MP.

The camera does what it advertises and does so pretty well.  As the presenter moves around, the camera keeps the person within the field of view.  As an aside I was a little surprised by the fact that this camera moves in small jolts rather than in a smooth manner.  Though the resulting video doesn't feel very professional, I would rather have this behavior that see constant movement as the system tries to decide where to point.  Perhaps with sufficiently sophisticated software, a gradual movement system would be better.

Where the camera doesn't do as well is when more than one person is involved.  The camera basically seems to track the "biggest" movement, so in a presentation setting, if one person walks away from the center of the action, the camera basically follows them.  As a result, in our usage we had to basically wave the camera down to keep the presenter visible.

Clearly this camera was not designed for this type of scenario, but it did get me thinking about how easy it would be to provide a solid solution to this problem.  The answer is to put dual microphones on the camera, and have it rotate to point to the dominant source of audio.  This would be ideal for many scenarios, from video conferencing, to training, to Q & A and presenting.

So, could somebody please make such a thing and not charge too much for it.  Thanks.  :-)

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