Wednesday, August 6, 2014

At Last, a Document Camera Solution for Chromebooks

As more and more school districts deploy or plan to deploy Chromebooks, a stumbling-block has come up: How do you connect a document camera to a Chromebook?

Traditional document cameras have VGA or HDMI output connectors and can’t be connected to Chromebooks.  Newer document cameras may have USB out which can be connected to a Chromebook, but unless the document camera incorporates the right kind of video interface and has a web-based version of its software it won’t function with Chromebooks.
The HoverCam has a solution.

Our Solo 8 document camera has USB out and is engineered to output an uncompressed YUV video signal which is Chromebook compatible.  So, it’s easy to plug the HoverCam Solo 8 into the USB port of a Chromebook and to have an image appear on the Chromebook screen.  Furthermore, we have released a web-based version of our HoverCam Flex software called HoverCam FlexWeb, allowing users to control a HoverCam document camera and its functions via a standard Internet web browser.

Functions supported via a web browser using FlexWeb include taking snapshots, scanning, recording video, live zoom, panning, annotation and more.  To make the Chromebook and HoverCam combination wireless, simply connect Google’s Chromecast dongle to the HDMI input of a projector or large screen display.  Using Chromecast, the HoverCam’s camera image may be displayed without a cable from the Chromebook to the projector or flat screen.


HoverCam FlexWeb is available without charge to registered HoverCam customers and may be accessed from http://hovercamflex.com/ For additional information about the HoverCam, please visit www.thehovercam.com

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

New Document Camera Designed to Fit on Teacher's Desk, Fold into Drawer or Pack to Go. Introducing HoverCam Solo 8

The HoverCam Solo 8 (on right)
 is designed for everyday desktop
 use and has a significantly smaller
footprint than traditional
document cameras (left). 
The “traditional” document camera has a large platform with many connectors making it cumbersome to move around the room, put in a drawer, or take home to do class preparation. As for fitting on a teacher’s desk, traditional document cameras with their large base aren’t practical because they take up so much space.
Enter the HoverCam Solo 8, which has a small, weighted base trim enough to sit comfortably on a desktop without hogging space. It is the first fully-featured document camera designed to fit on a teacher's desk, fold and put into a drawer or pack to go. “Why isn’t my document camera this small!?” teachers ask me when seeing the HoverCam for the first time. The HoverCam Solo 8 is powered by a USB cable connected to the computer - there is no power cord or power adapter - so the HoverCam Solo 8 is always connected to the computer and is always available to use. Use it for a quick demonstration; a quick show and tell; to show a lesson on a tablet or smartphone; to make a quick scan of a document – saving a trip to the office; to take a quick snapshot; to video record a student presentation or a “flipped” lesson. The HoverCam Solo 8 is four pieces of equipment in one – a scanner, an HD video recorder, and HD webcam and a document camera – and sits right on the teacher’s desktop, always available to use, and its price is affordable for many schools at just 349 dollars per classroom, including the software.
The HoverCam Solo 8 is not a piece of equipment to keep in the closet to pull out for occasional use. It’s designed to be on a teacher’s desktop all the time, taking up very little space. And, it folds up flat when not in use. It weighs just 2.2 lbs. and can easily be folded and taken home to create lessons when school isn’t in session. And, because it’s small enough to be on the desk ready to use anytime, it is used. Principals find the ROI of a HoverCam is high and so is teacher satisfaction.
Have an old, clunky document camera in your room? Want more space on your desk? Consider trading it in for the HoverCam Solo 8, the world’s first SuperSpeed USB 3.0 document camera with 8-megapixel resolution and a 30 frames/second refresh rate designed for desktop use. For additional information, please visit www.thehovercam.com

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Only Document Camera Designed To Scan: Introducing The HoverCam Solo . Yes, It's a Scanner, Too

From its debut in 2010, the HoverCam was designed as a new kind of “top down” scanner to scan documents with a camera positioned above the paper on a stand instead of below a glass platen. The design was so innovative it was awarded several U.S. patents. Unlike traditional document cameras with VGA connectors designed to connect directly to projectors, the HoverCam is a USB computer peripheral with a high-resolution sensor and scanning software that allows users to crop an image, straighten and scan directly to PDF. There is an auto-timer allowing scanning at specified intervals – for example, every five seconds – and even a motion-sensor that triggers scanning a set number of seconds after motion is detected, such as placing a paper down in the scan area. Using the motion-trigger function and HoverCam’s “Flex” software included with every unit, it’s easy to scan multiple documents into a single PDF file, saving a teacher time and trips to the office. And HoverCam’s software allows easy sharing of documents through email, drag-and-drop into another program, and uploading to Evernote or Dropbox.
HoverCam’s Flex software also includes a simple OCR – Optical Character Recognition –function that allows the user to scan text from a document then edit the text and paste it into a Word document. This makes it easier for teachers to create some lessons. Then there is the text to speech function, which reads out loud in selected computer voices the text that was scanned – useful for language instruction and also a few laughs depending on the voice selected. Traditional document cameras could always take a low-res photo or a low-res snap shot with their low resolution cameras, but from the beginning, the HoverCam was the world’s first “document camera” that was also truly a document scanner so schools were getting four pieces of equipment in one: a document camera, an HD video recorder, an HD webcam and a scanner.
Once again, HoverCam has changed the game with the new Solo 8, the world’s first document camera to incorporate an 8-megapixel sensor that scans text even more clearly than earlier models. The Solo 8’s camera scans 8-megapixel resolution images that are “uncompressed” which means that scans of text are cleaner with fewer artifacts and OCR accuracy is improved. The typical storage size of each scan is about 1MB so it’s easy to share files. And, the Solo 8 works great with leading OCR software packages, such as ABBYY Fine Reader. For additional information, please visit www.thehovercam.com

Friday, July 18, 2014

A New Document Camera Designed to Record Video for “Flipped Learning” and Classroom Instruction. Say Hello to Solo 8

Use of video recording in schools is increasing, with more teachers “flipping” their classroom and video used as a tool to assess how well students present and comprehend material. At the Illinois Computer Educators Conference in Illinois in February, spotlight speaker Richard Colosi, an educator from New York and winner of two national video contests, urged conference attendees to record student presentations and play back the recordings.  “It’s when you record the material you find out if the students really understand what they’re talking about,” he said.

A challenge when recording video with a smartphone or tablet is stability – and a tripod or stand may not always be available. Also, once you record the video on a device – or snippets of video – sometimes there’s a need to edit the content into a more coherent lesson, and that often means transferring the video to a computer to use the best editing tools.

The HoverCam Solo 8 was designed from the ground up with the latest microprocessor power and highest sensor resolution to record HD 1080p video at 30 frames per second over a USB cable directly to a computer’s hard drive.  It is the only document camera available today that does that over USB – with most other document cameras recording at lower resolution, lower speeds and with video recording time limited by the size of inconvenient SD cards. With the Solo 8, instructors can record hours of video footage directly to their computer, without the extra step of transferring video to the computer. Furthermore, the Solo 8 allows annotation over video while recording, to further enhance a lesson.

The Solo 8 weighs just 1 kg – 2.2 lbs. – and has a small base so it’s easy to pick up the camera and swivel it in any direction.  It has a flip-up camera head that is fully rotating and a bendable arm to record video in almost any direction.  It can be used to record video of students at the back of a classroom – or up-close to reveal amazing features of objects - and it records and plays back in HD 1080p resolution with the speed and clarity you expect to see from an HDTV broadcast. And, when using a USB 3.0 cable, the video is uncompressed YUV video – for an even better HD image.


The HoverCam Solo 8 is more than just a “document camera.” It is becoming a teacher’s best friend for easily recording and playing back high-quality HD video using the computer and for “flipping” the classroom. To find out more, please visit www.thehovercam.com and click on the video below.




Thursday, July 17, 2014

Finally, A Document Camera Designed for Easy Use With Interactive Whiteboards. Introducing The HoverCam Solo 8

At education technology trade shows around the country teachers seeing the HoverCam on display walk up to me and say, “I can’t figure out how to connect my document camera to the interactive whiteboard.” Sometimes the teacher admits “the document camera just sits in the closet.” Traditional document cameras were designed to output video through a VGA port directly to the projector and lacked the connectivity to communicate with interactive whiteboards - IWBs.  And, even as traditional document camera manufacturers added USB connectivity to their products, the video streamed over their USB cables is either low-resolution, unacceptably slow, or both.

The HoverCam Solo 8 is the world's first
SuperSpeed USB 3.0 document camera
with 8MP resolution and a
30 frame/sec refresh rate at high-resolution. 
It's designed to work with 
Interactive Whiteboards.
From its initial conception five years ago, the HoverCam was designed to work with computers and to connect to PCs and Macs with a USB cable, just as an IWB connects to the computer via USB.  The HoverCam represents a whole new philosophy in document camera design.  The HoverCam is a “computer peripheral.” It didn’t take long for school principals and district IT directors to learn that the HoverCam being a USB “document camera” is an advantage, because it allows easy connecting and use with IWBs. Moreover, the HoverCam design – which uses a high-resolution sensor instead of bulky, expensive optics – has a clearer image and costs significantly less than traditional document cameras to produce. Not because it’s cheap - because it’s innovative and incorporates advanced, patented technology.

Not only is the HoverCam hardware ready for use with interactive whiteboards right out of the box, the HoverCam “Flex” software included with each unit is also compatible with IWB software.

There are four ways to import HoverCam images into IWB software:

·        Drag-and-drop any captured image or photo from HoverCam’s software window into the IWB software.
·        HoverCam’s “Slingshot” feature which allows an image being shown by the HoverCam to be captured and inserted into any software program – including IWB software – with just one click without leaving the IWB software.
·        HoverCam’s “Whiteboard Connector,” a flash-app that allows the camera’s live streaming video to be displayed within the IWB software.
·        Using the “transparency” feature of the IWB software to display HoverCam’s live, full-motion, 30 frame/second 1080p video image inside the IWB without installation of any additional software, app or driver.


It’s easy to connect a HoverCam to any computer for use with any IWB, and best of all, the new HoverCam Solo 8 delivers clearer images over USB than any other document camera costing less than 3,000 dollars with its true 8-megapixel resolution and full-motion, 30 frames per second video. For more information please visit www.thehovercam.com

Sunday, March 16, 2014

HoverCam Leads Way Again with Solo 8 - World's First USB 3.0 Document Camera with 4K Resolution and Full-Motion Video

In 2010, HoverCam launched the world's first USB document camera shaking up the document camera market for K-12 schools. Four years later, the company is about to re-energize the declining document camera market with the Solo 8, the world's first SuperSpeed USB 3.0 document camera outputting uncompressed HD video up to 4K resolution at 30 frames per second

This is the first USB document camera with no image delay, ghosting or latency when displaying live video on commonly used 1080p resolution displays. USB 3.0 has about 10x the bandwidth of USB 2. The benefits of this breakthrough to teachers will include:



·      * Teachers can now show live video images of solving problems, working worksheets, modeling and more in full motion video with the convenience of a small document camera connected to their computer.
* Teachers can easily record high quality HD videos at their desk for "flipped learning".
* Since the Solo 8 is also USB powered, no additional power cord is required. And, because the footprint of the Solo 8 is small - about 2 inches by 2 inches - it can sit on a teacher's desk without taking up much space, available to use any time.
*    * Connecting the document camera to the computer via USB makes it more convenient for teachers to us camera images with their SMARTboards and other interactive displays. Moreover, with HoverCam's software, it's convenient to scan documents as PDFs directly to the computer.

          Other Key Features of Solo 8: Record and play back full motion, HD video at 30 frames/second. Annotate over video, even when recording.

·       Solo 8 incorporates an 8-megapixel sensor that outputs uncompressed YUV video at up to 4K resolution.  See close up details with amazing clarity. See text of an A3 double-page document more clearly than ever before.

·       Backwards compatible with computers with USB 2 connectors. Over USB 2, Solo 8 delivers MJPEG compressed 1080p video at 30 frames/second

·       The world’s first implementation of ASR (Adaptive Sensor Resolution) in a document camera. This method allows Solo 8 to use all 8MP of the camera resolution at all times and allows the camera to zoom using ASR maintaining outstanding image quality. 

·       Improved version of HoverCam Flex Software called “Flex 10” – which operates natively on Windows and Mac computers. The new software delivers maximum camera performance and improves the end-user experience. (Previous versions of the software were coded on top of Adobe Air.)

·       Improved OCR (Optical Character Recognition) performance for scanning a document into editable text.

·       Additional features: USB powered, small footprint and powerful software for scanning, recording video, slingshot, integration with interactive whiteboards, taking photographs, and more.

·       People are saying Solo 8 has higher performance than Elmo, Aver, Lumens and SMART document cameras at half the cost.  The Solo 8 MSRP is $349 and it begins shipping in April.

HoverCam have been demonstrating a Solo 8 prototype at trade shows this winter and the response has been enthusiastic, according to company officials. Teachers and tech directors appreciate the image clarity and smooth video images, they say. For additional information, please contact www.thehovercam.com

(The writer is VP of Sales for the HoverCam.)

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Could the Future of Scanning be a Top Down Approach?

Fujitsu ScanSnap SV600. A new
"top scanning" design. $895
The direction of document scanning in the future may be top down. Literally. Four years ago, a company in San Diego, CA named Pathway Innovations & Technologies, Inc. developed the first "top scanner", a device in which the camera is on a stand and points down at a document, whereas traditional scanners incorporate a camera beneath a glass platen. The traditional flatbed scanner is slow. The "top scanner" is fast, scanning a page in less than one second. And, with top scanning, there are no paper jams and no ripping of paper. As the resolution of "top scanners" made by Pathway, which it calls The HoverCam, have improved, so has the quality of the scans. The company has been awarded both a U.S. design patent and a utility patent for the HoverCam invention. Although annual sales are still relatively small at less than $10 million a year, Pathway is a young, emerging company and is growing. What's interesting is that the top down scanning approach was recently validated by Fujitsu, the 800 lbs. gorilla of the scanning market, which introduced its own top scanner model called the ScanSnap SV600.  The Fujitsu model's main purpose is scanning, and, it's not cheap, with a $895 price tag. By comparison, the HoverCam Solo 5x (and the soon to be released Solo 8) model is more than a scanner; it's also a document camera used to show images during live presentations and training sessions. In addition, the HoverCam Solo 5x document camera is also a HD high-definition web conferencing camera, a video camera that records video and voice with its built-in microphone, and has a flexible camera head so that it can be pointed in any direction and used as a USB camera. And, HoverCam has come to market with portable version of the top down scanner - the HoverCam Mini - so small it weighs less than 6 oz and fits in your pocket or evening purse. (In April, 2014 HoverCam will release the Solo 8, the world's first 8-megapixel, SuperSpeed USB 3.0 document camera with up to 4K resolution and a refresh rate of full motion 30 frames per second video.)
HoverCam Mini 5 document
camera and scanner. It scans, records
video, takes snap shots and is an
HD webcam. $249

The shape of scanning in the future could be top down, with Fujitsu and HoverCam leading the way with the new "top scanner" approach. Office products retailers such as OfficeDepotStaples and OfficeMax have shown interest in the new concept and have picked up the HoverCam products. In Fujitsu's marketing video of the SV600, the scanning giant fired a direct competitive shot at the HoverCam design, validating the top scanning approach. If Pathway Innovations and its HoverCam are able to do to the scanning market what they did to Elmo Manufacturing Corp. in the document camera market for education -- in which HoverCam was disruptive with its patented new approach selling over 100,000 units in less than 3 years to schools-- then be on the lookout for changes in the future of scanning.

(About the author: Craig Justice is VP of Sales for Pathway Innovations, maker of The HoverCam.)