Webcams are a great way to communicate with family, friends and colleagues around the world, but they can be tricky to use. According to a survey by Zogby Analytics, 15% of people are turned off by someone sitting too close to the camera on a video call (hearing people eat is a close second). Additionally, many of us have a tendency to look down at our monitor during calls to consult notes or a script and can end up looking like a robot or like we’re staring into a blank screen.
To combat these issues, Center Cam is a small, USB-powered device that sits in the middle of your monitor to help you maintain eye contact with the camera and look more natural on a video call. The device was successfully funded on Indiegogo and has a few unique features that separate it from similar products.
Normally, when a camera is pointed at you, the software automatically adjusts the frame to focus on your face. However, if there are any distracting objects in the frame—such as a plant or lamp—the image can end up blurry or overexposed. To avoid this, most cameras use matrix metering that evaluates the brightness and contrast of the entire frame and then focuses on your face to get a clear, focused image.
This works well, but if your monitor is tilted up or down slightly, the image will be out of focus. center webcam solves this problem by adjusting the lens to keep the center of the image in focus no matter how the monitor is positioned. This can be done manually or using software, but it’s a pretty cool feature that’s missing from most other webcams.
The camera itself is fairly simple: it has a lens, a USB connector and a monitor clip that clips onto the top of your monitor. Setup is easy—just thread the USB cable through the big holes at the top of the monitor clip, then through about half of the flextube to make sure it’s secure. You can then position the camera by holding it up to your monitor to see where you want it to sit, then bending the tube accordingly and snapping it into the clip hooks on both sides of the camera.
The only downside is that the camera blocks a bit of your screen when you’re not on a call, so you have to move it out of the way to work or play a game. However, it’s a small price to pay for the illusion of eye contact and some cool new telepresence tricks.