Auto Zoom and Tracking Cameras; do they work?

Auto zooming and tracking cameras are now whittled down to price points that anyone can afford. But the real question isn't "should I buy one", but it's more "do they work".

I'm in video conferences for several hours per week. Many of the far end points have auto tracking cameras, either Polycom's Eagle Eye Director or Producer or Cisco's Speaker Track. If you've ever been in a meeting with one these that are active on the other end, you'll know it immediately.

You'll know them because:

  • The camera moves around, sometimes without reason
  • The camera takes 3-4 seconds to pan over to whoever is talking (and by that time, they may be done talking)
  • You start waiting for it to move - and that's completely distracting.

Imagine if you're in an important meeting and you start sneezing. Guess what, you end up on camera front and center so everyone can see you sneeze. Well, actually since the delay is so long, they get to see you wipe your nose instead. Great, isn't it? This technology assumes that only one person is ever going to speak at a time. The problem is, meetings aren't like that. Meetings aren't just one person in site A talking to one person at site B. They are dynamic with sometimes several people speaking at once.

Not to mention that most people who have them tell me they turn them off because they simply "don't work".

It's best to see actual demonstrations of the products versus marketing videos. These two videos speak for themselves.

Notice the length of time it takes to switch. The people who stopped talking look a little lost.

If you're considering one of these products, or one of the new USB offerings out there, take it for a long test drive. If you are the decision maker, don't put it in your room, put it in a room you talk to often. That way YOU can get an idea of the pros and cons of the technology.

1 comment:

  1. You must be using really old software and may need to look at the lighting in the room. It's also common for integrators to forget that you have to calibrate the Polycom tracking cameras after physical installtiion so they perform their best.

    Good lighting, placing the tracking camera in the right position, and configuring it properly will provide a great experience. I've been a Video Administrator for a very large organization for many years and ALL of our large conference rooms have been outfitted with one to two Polycom Eagle Eye Director 1 and now the 2's. The Eagle Eye Director 2 even allows you to have multiple tracking cameras working together in a room! Perfect for my large training rooms.