|Will the HoverCam Mini become|
the new chocolate for road warriors?
"Anticipated" is a generous word - because in the consumer and business world there is no such thing as a "scan camera" that does what the Mini will attempt. But in the education and professional audio visual (pro-AV) marketplace, the Mini will achieve the status as world's smallest "document camera." For schools, this type of product is used as a replacement for the overhead projector (OHP) or opaque projector - ask any teacher what an "Elmo" is and they'll tell you it's not a furry Sesame Street Character but a tool for showing worksheets, books, 3-D objects and dissections to students in class. Elmo Corporation of Japan is the 800 lbs. gorilla in the "document camera" market. It's been 3 years since the upstart HoverCam introduced its first USB document camera with twice the performance of an Elmo at one-third the price. In a weak economy with schools concerned about budgets HoverCam sales to the K-12 education market have taken off. Now, here comes the Mini.
|The HoverCam Mini 5 plugs directly into|
the USB port of a computer without
a USB cable, making it convenient for
use on the road (or in an office).
In the education market, the Mini is expected to be a hit among teachers who travel from school to school to train, and for administrators including school principals and IT directors.
What about the general business and consumer market? Will the Mini become the new chocolate for road warriors? According to Ji Shen, Pathway's CEO and HoverCam inventor, the Mini is a personal scanner, and he says jokingly, "it's the pathway to the paperless office." The company has developed software for scanning documents, and includes links to export directly to Evernote, Dropbox, Facebook, YouTube and other Cloud Services. In addition, the Mini will include software for scanning and managing business cards and receipts.
Is it fair to call the Mini a competitor to the ubiquitous NeatDesk(TM) or NeatReceipts(TM) scanners? No, according to Mr. Shen. "Neat has had several years to develop and perfect its receipt scanning software and we're just beginning. The HoverCam advantage is the versatility of a camera that scans documents and shoots photos and can used with Skype to video conference and and make recordings," he said. Mr. Shen added, "The Mini at this stage is a video presentation and quick scanning tool. But, I expect our receipt scanning software to improve with time."
Full disclosure: The writer has 20 years experience in the education technology marketplace and has been an importer and distributor of document cameras made in Japan, Korea and Taiwan. In the past, he was product manager of a business development project that included Elmo Corporation and is currently a consultant to Pathway Innovations, manufacturer of The HoverCam. The opinions expressed are his own, unless noted otherwise. Specifications and pricing are subject to change, but were accurate at the time of writing.