Let me introduce you to Swivl ($299): part robotic cameraman, part app and part cloud service. If you’re a person with knowledge to share, Swivl may just be your new best friend. Teachers or presenters of any type… prepare to have your mind completely blow.
Put simply, Swivl captures the audio, video and slides of a presenter. The setup works like this: first the user places an iPhone or iPad in the robotic base unit’s cradle (which conveniently comes with multiple, interchangeable cradle sizes for devices with different sizes or cases). Once paired with the Swivl Capture app, the user then holds or wears (via an included lanyard) a remote. The remote tells the base unit where to focus. Simply press the record button on the remote and start your presentation.
Admittedly set up wasn’t as quick and straightforward as it could have been. I easily paired the device with my iPhone via Bluetooth but couldn’t do the same with my iPad Air.
But once things were set up it was immensely satisfying to realize that I didn’t need anyone to film me—I could film myself.
The experience itself is smooth. Attention to detail has obviously been paid. The remote stows away inside the base unit where it also recharges when not in use. The base unit is rechargeable itself which means it doesn’t have to be tied to the wall during a presentation.
I found that the unit followed me around the room easily and quickly. I’m not sure the movement is quite real time, but it’s close enough that it’s not an issue at all.
Between an iPhone and an iPad, you’ll obviously get higher quality with the iPhone’s better camera sensors, but I enjoyed using the iPad better to see myself in the front-facing camera on the larger screen.
Swivl’s cloud features are a great way to share your knowledge with the wider world, rather than the audience that might be right in front of you at the time.
Swivl founder Brian Lamb explained to me that people in general are self-conscious about being on camera but with a robot in front of them, much of that anxiety disappears. It’s a statement I resonated with in my trial of the device. It’s easy to talk when it feels like nobody’s watching.
While Swivl is targeting a more professional crowd, there’s some fun to be had on the side. Using the Swivl DSLR app, Swivl makes it easy to take time-lapse photography. And better than a static, unmoving time-lapse, Swivl can rotate at set degrees and intervals for a more dynamic shot.
The Swivl is an impressive device—just explaining it to people tends to drive them wild with anticipation. If you’re looking for a way to share video content where you’re the knowledgeable star and don’t need a camera crew, Swivl is going to become your new best friend and must-have accessory.