The pandemic has made video conferences and online classes the norm to the point that “Zoom fatigue” has become a real psychological problem for many people of all ages. Despite the frequency of these virtual meetings, however, many of us still come unprepared for many things, especially those that involve things that are written or printed on paper or physical media. Whether it’s a sketch of an idea or a live demonstration of solving a math problem, most of our computer equipment and accessories today are not equipped to handle things that don’t exist inside our computers or phones. One doesn’t need a complicated and sophisticated piece of technology to solve that problem, as this simple yet effective webcam concept demonstrates.
Designer: Alex D’Souza
We can always type out notes or even make diagrams on our computers, but that doesn’t always work for every scenario. If you’re teaching students or demonstrating what you’ve learned in class, you often have to scribble down something live. There might also be times when you need to show notes, pictures, or other things that haven’t been digitized yet. The latter usually involves awkwardly placing your notebook or photo in front of a high webcam, while the former sometimes requires jerry-rigging a contraption that holds a camera or a phone up high.
Viu offers a simpler solution that utilizes smart design principles with a bit of computer vision and computational magic. In a nutshell, it is a webcam on a small stand whose lens faces down at an angle and sees anything that you place down on a flat surface in front of it. Algorithms straighten out the images so that they appear as if they’re taken from a camera that’s facing straight down from a high level. We’ve seen this kind of “document straightening” in many smartphone camera apps, so it’s really a wonder why no one has thought of it yet, much less commercialized the concept.
This webcam concept design also offers something that goes beyond its technical merits. In terms of design, Viu is petite and delectably minimalist so that it fits in almost any kind of desk theme or decor. It’s easy to operate, with only two buttons for power and taking a still photo of a live video feed, and is small enough to fit in any nook or cranny. Its clean form doesn’t visually distract you from the task at hand, but a transparent version also exists to add a bit of flavor to your desk, if that is your thing.
Viu’s simplicity extends to how it’s constructed and arranged inside, with only two circuit boards covered by two outer pieces. Because it’s simple to manufacture and assemble, the webcam reduces unnecessary components, manufacturing steps, and costs. Despite and because of that minimalist aesthetic, the webcam can almost act like a decorative piece on your desk when not in use.
Like a lamp or robot that’s facing down, Viu’s design is simple yet distinctive, with an almost playful element to it. A neutral CMF and a small footprint make it ideal for any desk, whether busy or clean, fulfilling a need that hasn’t been sufficiently addressed in the months and years after Zooms and Google Meets have become a part of many people’s lives and work.