Articles-6

Buyer Beware Specs

Published on Thursday, 17 July 2014

Buyer Beware – There’s Only One Document Camera With True 8MP Resolution at 30 frames/sec. Introducing HoverCam Solo 8.

When evaluating document cameras, two important technical specifications are resolution and frame rate. In theory, the higher the resolution, the better the image clarity. Regarding frame rate, the faster the speed, the better the video. Slower video rates are a classroom distraction and lower resolution images are harder to see.

Resolution is usually expressed two ways: the resolution of the camera sensor in megapixels  –for example, 5-megapixels – and as common video standards, for example 1080p which is 1920 x 1080 pixels.

Purchasers of document cameras should review manufacturers’ specifications carefully, especially the fine print.  For example, a manufacturer may claim its product incorporates a 5-megapixel sensor, yet the fine print states only 3-megapixels are active. Moreover, in the very fine print, a manufacturer might state that when streaming video over USB the video resolution is only 1-megapixel and compressed, which results in much lower video quality.

With traditional document cameras, there is often a correlation between resolution and refresh rate where higher resolution images may have lower frame rates.  This is especially true when video is transmitted over USB 2.0 cables, which creates a bottleneck for full-motion video for traditional document cameras. The standard speed for high quality video used by document camera manufacturers is 30 frames / second. Many traditional manufacturers will claim “30 frames/sec” on their spec sheet without stating the resolution, or, “30 frames/sec max” which is somewhat dubious as it doesn’t state at which resolution the 30 fps frame rate is achieved.

We believe document camera manufacturers should present clear specifications that state frame rate at the corresponding resolution. In the case of the HoverCam Solo 8, the resolution is 8-megapixels at 30 frames/second.  That’s a true 8-megapixels with 4K clarity as all 8-megapixels are “active” and a true 30 fps speed when in 8-megapixel mode. At lower resolution, such as HD 1080p, the Solo 8 frame rate is 30 frames/second over USB. Over the newer SuperSpeed USB 3.0 standard, which has approximately 10X the bandwidth of the older USB 2.0, the HoverCam Solo 8 transmits uncompressed YUV video at 30 frames/sec for the clearest possible image rivalling that of seven thousand dollar document cameras. How does Solo 8 work over the older USB 2.0 standard? In fact, very well, using slightly compressed MJPEG video at 30 frames/second.

The HoverCam Solo 8, incorporating several patent-pending innovations, is the world’s only document camera with these specifications – USB 3.0, 8-megapixels, 30 fps –  and the difference in performance between Solo 8 and traditional document cameras is easy to see with the naked eye. For this reason, Solo 8 was awarded “Best New Document Camera” by rAVe Publications at INFOCOMM 2014, the leading trade show for the professional audio-visual industry.  For teachers who have used the Solo 8, there’s no going back to document cameras with lower resolution and lower speed. To see for yourself why Solo 8 is possibly the best document camera ever built, please visit www.thehovercam.com

Countdown to the Next Generation HoverCam Document Camera

Published on Thursday, 15 May 2014

It’s that perfect time of the year. School is ending soon. Summer is upon us. The next-generation HoverCam document camera is coming out. Wait, what?! Yes, the newest generation of the HoverCam document camera is on its way, and we promise you that it is going to be a game changer.

You’ve asked for some upgraded features and we delivered. You wanted USB 3.0, you got it. You wanted higher resolution, you got it. You wanted vibrant color and amazing clarity, you got it. You wanted no lags in video, you got it. We really listened to our amazing team of teachers, educators and customers when we developed the new HoverCam Solo 8. The next generation HoverCam Solo 8 will be releasing soon and it’s going into alpha testing now. We are a few months away from releasing it, but it is time to get excited. The famous HoverCam Flex software will also be going through a revamp and will come, once again, pre-installed with the document camera.

The Solo 8 can handle higher resolution snapshots and scans, up to, you guessed it, 8MP. It can record at true 30 frames per second, full-motion video at 1080p giving you liquid smooth video. It is the world’s first SuperSpeed USB 3.0 document camera that can also perform just as well over USB 2.0. and there are many more features that we can’t wait to share with you. Trade show demonstrations around the U.S. and in Europe have led teachers to pre-sell thousands of cameras even before it left the factory!

What does that mean for you? Stay tuned here, to learn more about product updates, information and how you can get your hands on one.

AirStation I and Teacher Mobility

Published on Thursday, 01 May 2014

As a teacher, you are bound by the technology you have. If you have a desktop computer and a projector, there is a good chance that you will be standing in front of the classroom lecturing, because of the lack of mobility that many classrooms allow you to have today. Thankfully, HoverCam has a new solution that can make you mobile. This solution makes your classroom environment more inviting and engaging as you start to roam around the room and engage with your students on a newer, deeper level. 

The HoverCam AirStation I is a wireless base for your HoverCam document cameras. This base station allows you to remotely use a HoverCam without having to be “plugged in” to a computer and being limited by cables. The AirStation I acts as a conduit for learning. Specifically, because of HoverCam’s robust FLEX software, you can now use your iPad to control your HoverCam document camera remotely. 

This opens up a world of possibilities. Now, you can have a HoverCam at a student’s desk to show off their latest drawings, equations or models to the entire class. You can sit at the back of your room with your students and project images onto the screen, zoom in and record audio and video remotely whenever someone is giving any sort of presentation, demo or even training. Combining the AirStation I, a HoverCam document camera, an iPad, and the new DashTop app gives you more possibilities. 

With this integration, HoverCam knows how important iPads are for classrooms, and how being wireless opens up a new range of possibilities for the classroom. Using the touch-interface of the iPad, you can pinch-to-zoom, annotate and record with your HoverCam from your iPad. We are sure that you will think of creative ways to integrate all these amazing devices with amazing functionality into your classroom. Share your stories with us at www.thehovercam.com. 

HoverCam for the Visually Impaired

Published on Thursday, 17 April 2014 

iPad HoverCam IntegrationHoverCam strives to introduce innovative products that better the lives of all, especially in the classroom. We understand that a document camera has limited use for the visually impaired, and we have responded by making a product that makes using a document camera in a classroom for the visually impaired amazing and educational. With the visually impaired in mind, the HoverCam Flex software uses optical character recognition to deliver a seamless experience for those with visual impairments. 

Optical character recognition (abbreviated “OCR”) is the conversion of printed text to electronic text. This conversion is necessary for text-to-speech. In other words, the HoverCam document cameras along with its Flex software can scan a printed page and “read” it back to you electronically. Tesseract OCR comes free with HoverCam Flex but you are by no means limited to that choice of OCR software.

To ensure that documents or books are placed properly under the HoverCam document camera, we included markings on the guide mat. The HoverCam document cameras make scanning, OCR and text-to-speech easy. Although HoverCam Flex comes with OCR software, you are not limited to using our OCR software. Many visually-impaired users have a preferred OCR solution like ABBY FineReader. In this case, the HoverCam document camera can be used thanks to drivers. The driver makes any software that recognizes a scanner work with that device. In other words, the power of the 5-megapixel camera and the convenience of the mat can be enjoyed with the best OCR software.

As you can see, HoverCam always is thinking about ways to help everyone learn. The HoverCam document camera is just another example of how HoverCam is bringing technology to every classroom in hopes that every student in America has the technology in place to successfully learn.