Auto-Tracking Cameras Are the Future of Distance LearningThe education technology landscape is changing again. Since distance education has moved from text-based learning via online classrooms to the world of live video conferencing via webcams, auto-tracking cameras may be better suited to accomplishing a seamless real-time educational experience. While pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cameras still hold value, they work best when facilitating “face time” with instructors across great distances. Today’s auto-tracking cameras can provide a more personal and less cumbersome learning experience.

Learn from Previous Technologies’ Pitfalls

In the past, industry thought leaders did not have the technology to make PTZ cameras more efficient, and the system ended up more like a temporary bandage than a permanent fix. PTZ cameras do convey facial expression and body language, but they can be difficult to operate and must be swiveled to focus on different people as they take turns speaking. If video conferencing in a room-based setting is your goal, you may want to consider additional tech tools.

Webcams are personal devices: They do not work efficiently in room-based meetings and were never a real solution for distance-based learning. If you can reach your webcam within arm’s length, it’s ideal for small-scale video conferencing, such as groups of two or three people who can sit close to the screen. Any more than that, however, and the webcam loses proficiency.

For years, schools have utilized PTZ cameras to deliver distance learning to students far and wide. Now, instructors and students alike can take advantage of a better video conferencing technology on the market: the smart, efficient auto-tracking camera.

Transform Education with Auto-Tracking Cameras

Auto-tracking cameras follow and focus on the person speaking, facilitating easy collaboration since participants can clearly see expressions and body language on the screen. Auto tracking also enables listeners to focus on the professor using four student-directed focal points (with a new technology called U-Switch), so they don’t get distracted by other objects onscreen.

Auto-tracking technology provides a scalable networking architecture via the control of multiple video cameras, enabling the learning community with an efficient alternative to PTZ cameras. These cameras make each student feel included in class, even if they are learning from a far distance.

Auto-Tracking Cameras: The New Way to Video Conference

Auto-tracking cameras are the current best practice for conference rooms, offering numerous benefits for distance learners, including:

    • Automatic detection of who’s speaking.
    • Switching the correct camera to locate the speaker.
    • Moving the camera to the speaker and focusing on his or her face.
    • Getting the second camera ready to focus on the next speaker.
    • Taking a wide shot if multiple people speak at once.
    • No need for special rooms.
    • High-resolution images and audio.
    • Eliminating the need for camera operators

Auto-tracking cameras are built with advanced facial-tracking technology to recognize each individual in the room and frame the shot for the greatest impact—even as people leave and enter the frame. They can count and record the amount of people in a classroom, conduct detailed analytics, and send the information digitally to users. Translation capabilities are included too, providing subtitles in the user’s preferred language.

Advanced audio/visual (AV) technologies eliminate technical difficulties, such as being unable to see speakers’ facial expressions. A variety of other helpful features make the cameras much more than just recording devices. Distance learners can now enjoy nearly the same experience as a student sitting in the classroom—opening new doors in global education.

photo credit: video Conferencing application via photopin (license)