Day 10: A Happy Accident

Friday, 28 August 2015

I get to test a new toy this afternoon: a robotic camera operator.

A post shared by Megan Hayes-Golding (@megtheteach) on

How’s it work? Physics!

Kids file into the room and wonder what this thing in the middle of their desk is. I demonstrate how it works by walking around — kids observe that the camera follows me. We Q&A’d our way through how it worked. Best questions: Does Swivl track me or the necklace? (the necklace) What tech does Swivl use to track the necklace? (IR light transmitted from the necklace picked up by the receiver on the base) Can the IR transmitter I’m wearing around my neck work through the fabric of my shirt pocket? (yes) What does Swivl do if I walk out of range? (kinda just sits there, confused)

This little 10 minute diversion was awesome. I’m gonna borrow the Swivl for my other two classes. Let’s see if I can capture some of that magic for the other kids I teach.

Reviewing Game Film

My school films teachers for coaching and the Swivl is a test unit to see if it does what we need. First off, Swivl worked great — audio and video are beautiful. However, my Dean of Faculty¬†noticed a big problem in the way we use teacher video that may rule it out: we like to look at what all the kids are doing throughout class. Since Swivl follows me around, some kids are out of the frame at some times. I’m not convinced we need anything but a wide angle view of the entire room plus a mic on the teacher.

Not a flaw with Swivl, just an incompatibility in the way we use teaching video.

Swivl Feedback

The IR receiver will only track you if it can see the IR transmitter on your necklace. Turning your back or moving too quickly will break that line of sight. I’d recommend the Swivl folks make the IR receiver cover a wider viewing angle. We played before class with a prism in front of the IR receiver and it improved the field of view a whole bunch.

Also, I want Swivl to move less. If I’m still in the frame, don’t move the camera. Constant adjusting if I move by a few inches makes the video difficult to watch.

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