Swivl Simplifies Classroom Observation

Review |

Swivl Simplifies Classroom Observation

This robotic camera operator comes in peace.

By Kris Hattori     Jan 8, 2013

Swivl Simplifies Classroom Observation

Educators often need a quick and easy way to record their class. Hiring a cameraman to record can cost upwards of $25 an hour and leaving a camera at the far end of a classroom can fail to capture detail or the dynamics of a teacher. Enter the Swivl, a robotic tracking device for iOS devices that its maker, Satarii, describes as a "personal cameraman."

Satarii founders Brian Lamb and Vlad Tetelbaum worked together for five years doing product design before they decided to create the Swivl. Their background shows in the device's tight, functional design, solid build, and iconic neon green.

The Swivl consists of a base that connects to an iOS device and an infrared marker that the user can wear around his neck or clip to his pocket. This marker allows the Swivl to track the wearer in a full 360 degree panorama and tilt in a 30 degree range. I spent a few minutes attempting to trick the device but it wasn’t easy fooled.

We tested the Swivl out at Burlingame HS with math teacher Traci Kreppel. It was easy to set up, although admittedly we thought we had a bum machine before we realized the sleek device was backwards--doh! You can see the results for yourself here. (This was recorded using a Flip camera.)

If I had one wish, it would be that the Swivl eased in and out of its camera pans slower instead of turning at one speed, which causes footage to appear jittery at times.

In summary, you won't see the Swivl standing in for Spielberg anytime soon due to the nature of the devices it works with. However, it represents the flow of a speaker extremely well and at $179, it can be a cost saving solution for schools and educators looking to record their classrooms. Not bad for a core two-man team!

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