Over the past few years many of us have abandoned our digital cameras and switched to our phones to capture photos and videos. The resolution is high and we can crop, colour- correct and share in a matter of minutes. The same cannot be said when it comes to filming presentations and conferences. This often requires someone to be standing behind your video camera - which is normally mounted on a tripod - hoping they catch you before you walk out of shot.
That's why we love the Swivl, from the Californian based company of the same name. CEO Brian Lamb wanted to make it much easier for presenters and educators to film themselves, so initially raised $157,000 on Kickstarter back in 2009. The principle is similar to the excellent robotic SOLOSHOT tripod, which provides automatic tracking for video and has been such a big hit with sports fans.
The Swivl brings that robotic technology to presenters, teachers and can even free up those desperately static conference calls. What we most like about the Swivl is that you can use your phone or tablet or even a heavy duty SLR. No more digital video cameras and heavy tripods and no more coughs and sneezes and poor camera work from that colleague doing you a favour.
The Swivl comes in two parts - the robotic base that holds your recording device and a small remote control that you can hold or wear around your neck. The stand can be placed on an ordinary flat surface like a table and, while holding the device upright, it can pan around 360 degrees and can tilt 20 degrees vertically.
You can choose to manually control it or it can track you automatically, freeing you up to use a flipchart, whiteboard or even grab a drink whilst you are speaking. You also have the ability to mix your live broadcast with slides - which I can see as being really useful in the world of remote education. Swivl also have their own cloud-based system for sharing your talks, so everything can be done there and then on your phone or iPad.
For occasional users it's perhaps not the cheapest at around £250.00 - but hey it's an inexpensive robot! If you're used to delivering remote presentations or conference calls on a regular basis then I can see it being incredibly useful. We'll certainly recommend it to our clients.
Image credit: Swivl