On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a Swivl robot that follows me.

A couple of years ago I had the marvellous opportunity to go to the ISTE conference in San Diego. I learned so much on the trip, and during one of the walks through the conference trade hall, came across Vladimir Tetelbaum demonstrating his robotic cameraman, the Swivl. The Swivl comprises a base to which you connect your IOS device or camera using an adapter, and a tracker that you wear around your neck or clip to your clothes. The base then rotates (or swivl’s!) to follow you wherever you go, with the audio from the mic on the tracker also being streamed back to the base (see note at the end of the article). I was immediately hooked and organised to buy one, having it shipped back to Australia.

Here is what the components look like and a quick (sound free!) video of the base following the tracker.

SwivlHardware

One great use of the Swivl is for learning observation. In the classroom, the Swivl followed my every move, recording the video and audio using an iPod, so I could see the way that I interacted with students, delivered content, and generally facilitated the lessons activities. This really pushed me to develop my skill sets and improve the learning that occurred in (and out of) the classroom.

The opportunities for solo recording of lesson content to outsource as Flipped Classroom lessons is the other big appeal to me. Prior to getting the Swivl, when filming a complex demonstration or safety briefing, I had to either move the camera away from the demo, making the demo really small, or change the camera angle multiple times, and edit it all together. Well, no more! With the Swivl, the robot cameraman followed my every move, allowing for a seamless recording, all in one take.

Given it’s the Christmas season, I thought I would channel my inner Jamie Oliver and demonstrate the Swivl that way! I am sure you can imagine it as a science demonstration though.

SwivlSetup

The setup looks messy (along with my bench!), but is just the Swivl on a tripod, with the Logitech C920 mounted to the Swivl. The webcam and Blue Nessie microphone both go to the Targus four port USB3 hub which goes into the Surface Pro 3, using Camtasia to record and edit it all.

For those that are interested, here are the rolls after proving for 45 minutes, then a 25 minute bake at 210oC. Yum!

Bread1  Bread2

Note: There is a new version available, the Swivl II, which has a 3.5mm audio jack on the base to wirelessly stream audio from the tracker to any recording device at the base station. The Swivl I (which I have) only wirelessly streams audio to an IOS device, so when using a webcam as I usually do, you need an external microphone. I can’t wait to get a Swivl II, but funds don’t permit it just yet 😦

3 thoughts on “On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a Swivl robot that follows me.

  1. How does the audio work? Can you get a lapel microphone to connect to the remote or does the remote do a good enough job? Also, what does it record to – SD card or??

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    1. Hi Andrew. On the version 1 (which I have and use in the video) the audio is picked up by the tracker and sent to the base – this can only be picked up by an IOS device. In the new version (which I want!) you can plug a lapel mic into the tracker and this gets sent to the base. The base has an audio out jack so can go to any device with an audio in. You can probably see why I want the new one 🙂

      The old one records audio to the IOS device; the new one records to whatever you want. Both the old and the new can have a range of cameras attached to the base, and they record video to whatever they normally record to. There is no recording in the actual unit on either model.

      Hope this helps!

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  2. Lost this in the great email purge of 2015 (welcome back to school!) Brilliant!! I’ll start saving – this is great for my flipped learning environment!

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