Swivl pans your smartphone to keep you in the shot
By Ben Coxworth
November 14, 2011
When I was a kid, it always used to bug me when someone was supposed to be talking on a locked-off "video phone" in a movie, and yet the phone would pan with them to keep them in the shot! Well, like a lot of other things from sci-fi movies of the past, motorized face-tracking webcams are now a reality - albeit, they're still not very common. As it turns out, however, more and more video calls are being made not from desktop computers, but from smartphones. So, that being the case, how do you go about getting one of those to pan with you? Well, you could buy something like the Swivl.
There are two parts to the Swivl. One of those is the motorized platform, that holds, pans and tilts the phone. The other is the marker, which is wirelessly tracked by the platform. Users can wear that marker to keep the camera trained on themselves, move it in their hand to direct the camera to something else, or hand it off to another speaker.
At the time of its impending commercial launch, Swivl will be available with software designed specifically for newer iOS devices (other than iPad). That said, the basic follow-the-marker function should work with any smartphone or pocket video camera that can fit in the platform - they need to be less than 11 millimeters thick. Smaller point-and-shoot video cameras that have a threaded hole in the bottom are also compatible, via an including tripod mount accessory.
Crowd-sourced funding for the development of Swivl was recently accomplished through the IndieGoGo fund-raising website, at which time the product was called Star. Shipping is now expected to begin early next year. If you want one of your own, you can reserve a system for US$159, at the Swivl website.
To see how the Swivl moves, check out the video below.
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