Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to get your hands on the coolest little scanner ever, the new HoverCam Mini 5 ($299), coming to retailer shelves by end of the year. It folds down so small it fits into most cases right next to a notebook or tablet. Unfold it, plug its “foot” into USB & you can scan pages up to A4, items down to business card or postage stamp size, real-world objects, your face (it captures stills or video) even demonstrations or presentations. Unlike sheet-fed or flatbed line scanners, every scan at any size gets all the resolution of the full scan frame. The HoverCam Mini5 has both skills & manners; just wait until its software loads into your PC or Mac to make it even more useful.
HoverCam Mini 5 at CES but quiet since as big news gestates.
It was as small as the top of an office stapler, unfolded like a Transformers toy into a swan-like shape, got so much detail out of a scan that you could see the security signature on Franklin’s collar on a $100 bill & could do both stills & video but after its CES debut, where’d it go? The new HoverCam Mini ($299 MSRP) deliberately hid as manufacturing got underway & retail chains (both at & beyond ECRM) got a look at it. They loved it so by summer, the new HoverCam Mini 5 will become the first HoverCam model to appear on brick & mortar retail chain shelves.
Sheet-fed scanners are a better choice than a HoverCam when you have to scan hundreds of pages at a time. A HoverCam may capture a single page much more quickly but changing to the next page is always a manual operation; also, a HoverCam can’t duplex (shoot both sides of a sheet at the same time). Whenever you need to scan things that aren’t loose sheets like bound books, real-world objects, framed photos, items too small or fragile to sheet-feed (like postage stamps) or too big (like stock certificates), HoverCam versatility is the trump card. We should also mention a HoverCam can also shoot video for things like tabletop experiments, cooking demos or product presentations.
T3 vs Neo 3 – Which is better? Which do you need? We get this question often. Both are great cameras but the choice depends on your specific situation.
T3 vs Neo 3 – When you need a T3
The HoverCam T3 has become our “standard” document camera for education but it is several years old. It is the least expensive HoverCam document camera but it has features found in other document cameras three times the price. It is a great camera with a good frame rate and built-in microphone for recording lessons.
The T3 exchanges data and is powered by one USB cable. This makes it very easy to use but it does require a computer. If you have a laptop and you want the best USB document camera, the T3 is your choice.
T3 vs Neo 3 – When you need a Neo 3
The HoverCam Neo 3 is newer and has many features that the T3 does not. While it is slightly more expensive, its benefits outweigh the difference in cost. The Neo 3 can directly output to a projector or television via VGA or be connected to a computer. If you need to be able to connect directly to a projector or TV without a computer, the Neo 3 is the camera for you.
The Neo 3 runs the same software as the T3 but it has additional hinges, allowing it to be moved in positions the T3 cannot. The Neo 3 can be flipped up to be used as a webcam or leaned down to capture the smallest details. If you need a webcam as well as a document camera, the Neo 3 is a great choice. Also, if you want to focus on small objects or capture very fine details, you may want to consider the Neo 3.
Document camera shopping can be challenging. The terminology used is often overly technical. What is worse is that many companies focus on specifications that may or may not be in your best interest. For example, it is common to see the megapixels of the sensor of a document camera highlighted first and foremost. The dirty little secret is that the sensor is only as good as the resolution. This is the reason why your cellphone camera with 10 megapixels may not look better than the image on your document camera with 5 megapixels. A megapixel is one million pixels. A resolution defines how many pixels are shown on screen at a time. For example, a camera with the VGA resolution of 640 x 480 can display 307,200 pixels. That is about one-third of one megapixel. Therefore, having a 2 megapixel sensor on a camera with VGA resolution is going to result in poorer image than you might expect.
Document Camera Shopping at HoverCam
The HoverCam Neo 3 document camera has a 2 megapixel sensor. This may not sound impressive but the Neo 3 allows for UXGA image resolution. That is 1600 x 1200, or 1,920,000 pixels (almost 2 million). What is this means is that the Neo 3 actually utilizes its entire sensor to give you the best possible image.
When document camera shopping be sure to check more than simply the megapixels. It is not always the best indicator. If you have any questions about HoverCam document cameras, please feel free to contact us. We can be reached at 866.201.2058. For more about the HoverCam line of document cameras, click here.
The VGA USB controls on the HoverCam Neo 3 document camera are described in the video below. Unlike many document cameras, the Neo 3 does simultaneous output to VGA and USB. You can connect it directly to a projector and run it through a computer to take advantage of the HoverCam Flex software suite. In other words, you can do both at the same time. It is the only VGA USB document camera which does this. In other cameras, the user must switch from USB to VGA. Due to the fact that you can use it in two different ways, we needed to give the camera two ways of controlling it.
The Neo 3 does both VGA and USB at 30FPS. It has three resolution settings: 720p, XGA, and UXGA. The resolution you choose will affect the framerate. For example, at 720p and XGA resolutions, the frame rate is 30FPS but at UXGA resolution, the framerate is 15FPS. This means you can choose what is most important to you – the picture or the framerate.
This video was shot with a HoverCam using HoverCam Flex.
HoverCam Neo 3 VGA USB Controls Tutorial
For more information on the Neo 3 document camera, and how it allows you to output to both USB and VGA, click here.
Electronic PiP presentations and web conferencing are still new technologies. The goal for any new technology is to enhance or simplify a task a person would perform in every day life. Some electronic presentations show a document or object under the camera but you speak as a disembodied voice. Other people imagine a web conference as showing someone’s face while you talk to them over a distance. However, this does not accurately replicate how you would speak in person. If you were in the same room with someone, you would not simply stare at them the entire conversation – at least not without it becoming a little awkward eventually. The same holds true if you never looked at the person you were talking to you. You would, of course, want to make eye contact every few minutes but you would also want to turn your attention elsewhere: an object, a document, etc.
How PiP Changes Presentations
PiP, or “Picture-in-Picture,” allows you to speak electronically in a way closer to how you would in person, seeing the speaker’s expression and eyes while also seeing what that person is talking about. Now you can connect in the same way you would in a one-on-one conversation, conveying emotion and sincerity, while still communicating important information as efficiently as possible.
The HoverCam Neo 3 visualizer includes two cameras capable of doing Picture-in-Picture. Check it out for yourself and see if PiP does not improve your presentations.
Tesseract OCR comes free with HoverCam Flex software suite. You may have noticed in the Archive tab of HoverCam Flex that there is a tab labelled “OCR.” “OCR” is an abbreviation for “optical character recognition.” In other words, it digitizes printed pages. You can take a print out or book, scan it, and have text that you could edit in your favorite word processing program.
Tesseract OCR, included in HoverCam Flex, is the same OCR engine currently used by Google. Tesseract OCR was named one of the top OCR engines in the 1995. It is considered one of the most accurate open source OCR engines available. Combined with a HoverCam document camera, it can read a wide variety of image formats and convert them to text. From that point, the digitized document can be read back to the user with Text-To-Speech.
How to use Tesseract OCR
In HoverCam Flex, you can get the best results from Tesseract OCR by scanning dark uniform letters on a white background with a font size of 10 or greater. Be certain to crop your image to just the text and try to avoid pictures or symbols. Once digitized, click on the audio symbol at the bottom of the screen to activate your computer’s Text-To-Speech.
“Can I use iPads with document cameras?” We get this question all the time. Some people believe that it is a choice between one or the other but in reality they complement each other. For example, some customers think that because an the iPad has a camera, it replaces a visualizer but the HoverCam is a different type of device than the iPad. This is great but you do not want to hold the iPad indefinitely over a document while teaching a lesson. You could construct some kind of stand to hold your iPad and use it as a makeshift document camera but now you no longer would use it as an iPad for reading, browsing the web, checking email or any number of applications. You would be building a very expensive, jury-rigged HoverCam. (Also, if it is not stable it may topple and cost you the iPad.) The best thing to do is what we have seen at numerous schools across the country — use both together.
Tips for using iPads with Document Cameras
Under the HoverCam, an iPad appears with crystal clarity, much in the same way it looks to your eye. However, there are some tips to follow when using iPads with document cameras. The iPad’s screen has a glossy surface that can reflect overhead lights. If you do decide to show your iPad under your HoverCam, you will not want to use the built-in LED lights and you may want to turn off of the overhead lights, if possible. If this is not possible, you can sometimes eliminate hot spots caused by overhead lighting by tipping your iPad at an angle under the camera. For example, you might place a small object (like an eraser or a pen) underneath the iPad near the top or bottom of the device. When light hits the reflective surface at an angle, it will no longer directly shine into the HoverCam’s lens.
By the way, these tips are not exclusively just for using iPads with document cameras. Our products work with any tablet – Apple, Android, Kindle, Nook, etc.
To learn more about HoverCam document cameras, click here.
The HoverCam allows you to record video with your annotations on top. The robust annotation software features mean many schools which do not have interactive white boards take advantage of similar technology without spending additional funds.
HoverCam Flex Annotation Software includes:
-Free form line drawing on top of live video
-Formatted circles and squares
-A mask to hide portions of the screen
-Quickly erase all of your annotations
-Type text on video with different styles of fonts
-Draw arrows and pointers
In combination, you can achieve many interesting effects. For example, if you wanted to highlight text in a book, you would use the line tool and alter the transparency so that the words beneath the line could be seen. If you wanted to give an impromptu quiz, you could mask answers on a test and erase or delete the mask annotations to reveal the correct response. When teaching geometry, simple shapes and vectors are a breeze – and you save paper.
Best of all, the annotations in HoverCam Flex work fluidly with HoverCam’s smooth digital zoom. In other words, as you zoom in or out with your mouse wheel on your image, the annotations scale appropriately to match.