Go Swivl!

SWIVL - automatic pocket camcorder tracking

One of the constraints with current video lecture capture solutions is that the camera is in a fixed position so that, as presenter, you have to remain in the area around the podium if you wish to stay in shot. With colleagues in Teaching Support, we’ve been investigating professional tracking systems which enable the camera to follow the presenter around but they cost many thousands of pounds so it is unlikely that they could be rolled out beyond one or two ‘showpiece’ installations.

However, in the consumer video market, things may be about to change. One of the stars of this week’s huge annual CES consumer electronics show in Las Vegas is Swivl, a device designed for use with iPhones and with pocket camcorders┬ásuch as our fleet of loan Kodak Zi8s. It combines a motorised pan/tilt base for the iPhone and a wearable ‘marker’ (incorporating a wireless microphone) which the camera base follows around through 360 degrees. Swivl hasn’t yet been released but the price is set at around 160 US Dollars.

We already have a number of academic colleagues using pocket camcorders for a variety of purposes, including self-recorded feedback to students, so it’s easy to see how Swivl and the derivatives that are certain to follow will have multiple applications in education.