Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Standalone webcams

The standalone webcam rests on a platform or a boom (a small pole that supports the webcam), or it nests in a stand. Standalone cams are usually larger and some may have more features than those smaller units that clip onto a laptop or flat screen, although high-end clip-ons are almost indistinguishable in performance from high-end standalones. If you have a dedicated videoconferencing area, have multiple people at your conferencing station, or want to include a fair amount of items in your video viewing screen, then standalone webcams are for you.
Logitech’s Quickcam Orbit MP is an example of a feature-rich standalone webcam.

The camera is a shiny orb with a wide-angle lens that perches on a variable-height post or small stand. Its ultra-wide-angle lens takes in a large area around you. You may have the corner of a room, or a curved conference display set filled with your latest widgets on floor-toceiling shelves. The camera can include your widgets along with you and your sales partner in the mix. This webcam also follows you around your work area using a capability called Face Tracking. The Face Tracking webcam has some cool advantages:
  • Face Tracking allows the camera to fix its lens on the dominant face in the picture (or the most active one).
  • With Face Tracking, as you move, so will the camera: Logitech’s Quickcam Orbit MP webcam actually has a motorized lens that physically moves as it tracks you.
  • Face Tracking accommodates both pan and tilt motion as you move across and up and down: Some webcams move within a 189-degree field of view and a 109-degree tilt up and down.
  • Face Tracking adjusts the webcam focus as you move closer or farther away: If you move closer, the image is tight, framing your face. If you move back, the webcam adjusts its zoom to reveal more of the room. As you move, the webcam changes focus dynamically. Having a camera that makes its own zoom and pan decisions is, well, actually a little spooky!

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