Saturday, 12 May 2007

Flex - ability

Where could I find a webcam that would be easy to plug and play, have no messy wires, and, importantly, face away from the screen? For a considerable time I went down a path that led to frustration.
Here's why:

When I saw this, I thought my prayers had been answered. It is the Volvox USB Webcam
Now if I could just combine this with the Tatung H70, we might be in business. All I needed to do was get hold of one. Easier said than done. Try as I might, I couldn't find any way to actually buy one. Apparently they can only be sourced in Korea. Not to be put off, I even established a contact in Korea; who also could not get hold of one. At this point I stalled - I had exhausted Google and felt completely webcammed out.

I visited store after store (with the Tatung H70 clutched in my sweaty hand), trying all manner of clip-on, slide-on, balance-on webcams. None of them worked: the clip-ons sprung off, the slide-ons slid off, the balance-ons over-balanced and they all had a length of wire that needed dealing with.

A week or so of this eventually led me into a local branch of Curry's (an electrical store). In the webcam section I saw this:

This is the Philips SP610
Not much to write home about and the picture doesn't really do it justice but this was what I'd been looking for. The black USB lead is semi-rigid, bendable plastic which means you can plug in and bend accordingly.

With trembling fingers, I stuck it into the USB slot on the top of the H70. Bingo! I could take pictures, record video at the click of a stylus. I have finally found the solution I'd been looking for for so long. All in one device I had:
  • The ability to handwrite onto the screen and see it converted instantly to text.
  • The ability to quickly and easily take a photo and drop it straight into a document.
  • The ability to quickly and easily take video and drop it straight into a (powerpoint) document.
  • The ability to record sound quickly and easily and drop it straight into a (powerpoint) document.
Had I finally reached the end of my journey? Was this going to transform the life of the careworn and over-burdened Early Years practitioner frantically filling out post-it notes, juggling digital cameras etc?

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