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Episode 5: The Intelligent Camera

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Intelligent Cameras

[/vc_column_text][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner][vc_column_text]Cameras have long since been a part of the boardroom and classroom spaces in our community, but not in the same capacity as today’s intelligent cameras. Innovation has happened at almost a light-speed pace, changing the technology for cameras drastically from what it was as little as ten years ago. The goal for using an intelligent camera in these spaces today is to create a more authentic experience for both the person in the room with the camera, as well as the person on the other end.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

What Is an Intelligent Camera System?

[/vc_column_text][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width="2/3"][vc_column_text]On the most basic level, the goal of an intelligent camera is to make the end user’s experience both as easy and user-friendly as possible. These cameras do not require remote controls or touch panels equipped with presets in order to pan, tilt, or zoom. Instead, the hardware and software work together to focus and zoom in on speakers without requiring any action from the speaker or participants. There is no one intelligent camera, but rather multiple lines of intelligent cameras that provide a variety of bells and whistles for users. For those in the audiovisual industry, the “intelligent” part of a camera system can be attributed to many different areas, from everything to the hardware itself to the optics and how they respond to production roles written inside the software of the camera, to how all that ties back to multiple frequently used applications such as Zoom or Teams, for example. These applications typically have different ways they prefer to handle what is being presented from the camera and how output goes to other devices such as a mobile phone, laptop, conference room, etc. Although the hardware can be an integral part of a camera’s interaction with an application, the software often plays a larger role because every manufacturer customizes it to make it their own.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width="1/3"][vc_single_image image="4267" img_size="full" alignment="center"][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Why Intelligent Camera Usage Is on the Rise

[/vc_column_text][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width="2/3"][vc_column_text]Cameras from ten years ago simply provided a visual with some audio capabilities. They often required a remote control or a touch panel programmed with presets to shift the camera’s focus. Even though these abilities improved the experience from what it was years before that, they were not entirely user-friendly. Most users utilized only one or two presets and the rest went unused, even though the technology was available. If the other presets were used, it still did not enable the camera to focus on the active speaker unless they were in a predesignated spot. Today, intelligent cameras greatly enhance the user experience with better focus and tracking. It may help to think of how they work in terms of a television production such as a football game. Viewers can see almost every aspect of the game because there are multiple cameras that all have different points of view. Together this can make the user almost feel like they are present at the game itself. Intelligent cameras work much the same way because they are built with the capability to track a speaker, follow an active user, and know if it needs to get to a certain one. Not only does this enhance the viewer experience, it also allows the user to focus on the message they are communicating for the work at hand without having to perform a specific action with a remote to trigger a response from the camera.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width="1/3"][vc_single_image image="4268" img_size="full" alignment="center"][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

What Makes a Camera “Intelligent”

When it comes to what makes a camera “intelligent,” it is largely based on both the hardware and the software as the microphone and camera ingest audio and image data and relay it to the software. For example, during a meeting, if a camera picks up audio input from the left side of the room and in addition the optics show a presenter has moved to the left side of the room, the software intelligently interacts with the hardware to move the camera’s focus to where the presenter is without having to be redirected manually or via remote. How fast the hardware relays information to the software is somewhat customizable by the manufacturer. It is generally based on the user, the application, and the space it is being used in. This helps control the speed at which a camera moves and transitions, which can eliminate jerky actions. It is also instrumental in allowing the camera to focus on where a speaker ends up versus their transition from one point to another.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_separator][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Buying the Right Intelligent Camera

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Finding the Right Camera for Your Space When choosing the right camera for your space, there are several considerations to keep in mind, including:
  • the size of the space relative to the application at hand
  • the degree of view a camera provides
  • how a camera is networked with the infrastructure
  • focus on the useable, interactive space in a room rather than its dimensions
  • know the main application it will be used for
If you like the capabilities and features of a smaller camera that is not quite right for your space in terms of optics or zoom, there is likely another more suitable option in the product line that will work for the space in question. Just as you need a hammer and not a screwdriver to drive in a nail, you need an intelligent camera that caters to the right application. These details are incredibly important.  It is rare that one camera will fit every possible situation, but there may be a way to cascade unintelligent USB-based devices into a space so that they can communicate with one another with the means of ingesting audio and video data to share it with the host machine and then convey it to the person on the other end. Important Considerations for Buying an Intelligent Camera One of the best pieces of advice most industry professionals would offer is to do your homework and experience a camera firsthand before making any purchase decisions. This can mean taking tips like these into careful consideration:
  • Go beyond the spec sheet
  • Experience the technology in person instead of relying on a checklist
  • Be curious and ask questions
  • Do not purchase the first model you see
  • Think about the experience you plan to create with the camera in the classroom or boardroom
  • If two products are strikingly similar, go with the one you feel is best
It is important to note that spec sheets and checklists describe a product on paper, but it is not a substitute for seeing and experiencing the real thing in person.  It may be helpful to work closely with an AV integrator who has years of experience with many different types of cameras. They can set up test runs with different types of equipment so the buyer can more accurately compare experiences. At the end of the day, the ultimate goal of having an intelligent camera is to make the experience better for everyone involved. If you have questions about using an intelligent camera in your place of work, consider reaching out to a reputable AV integrator today.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]