If you think the purpose of peripheral cameras is for others to very clearly see your face, then the ROCWARE RC16 might be what you're looking for!
In March, Apple launched a display that surpassed many Android flagships, the Studio Display. Relying on computing power provided by the A13 Bionic allowed the function of centering individuals, a vital feature for online meetings, distance learning, video calls, etc. But Studio Display's entry threshold of 1799 USD is way too expensive for most people.
So how can more people use this feature? With the RC16
Relying on a self-developed algorithm, the RC16 not only centers on individuals but provides other functions such as body tracking, 4K ultra-HD resolution, and wide dynamic range images. All for an affordable price.
1. Focus Maker, Software Winner
The most significant difference between the RC16 and competing products is that this is a peripheral camera with AI functions. The two core functions of Auto Framing and Body Tracking are enough to make it play a more significant role in conferencing, online learning, and other scenarios. The RC16 beats competing products in software, Liberating this category from ]boring hardware competition.
Auto Framing is the participant centering function of the RC16; it can ensure that the participant is always in the middle of the screen. For example, suppose someone joins or leaves the screen. In that case, the camera angle will be enlarged or zoomed in accordingly, and the screen size will be automatically adjusted to obtain the best composition.
Since Auto Framing is a built-in function of the RC16, it can be adapted to almost all video calling software, such as Zoom, Skype, Teams, etc... It can activate Auto Framing normally, but the specific picture quality will be affected by network conditions. However, since the output of the RC16 is a horizontal screen, after all, in a video call with a vertical screen as the main screen, the effect will not be evident due to the limited frame size. But in multiplayer scenarios, it's a different story.
Perhaps you can imagine this scenario, you and two of your colleagues are in a meeting. If a fourth person joins the panel at this time, you must move the camera or adjust the seat. Either way, It will leave a bad impression on the client across the camera, like "Are they ready?".
But with the RC16, it will be different. When the camera detects an additional person, it will readjust the composition of the picture and automatically frame the new person into the picture. The RC16 itself is an ultra-wide-angle lens of 110°. This angle can compete with a smartphone lens and adjust its viewing angle.
Because the RC16 is equipped with a digital PTZ, the picture transition is smooth and stable, so the new person can appear on-screen seamlessly as if being introduced with a sense of ceremony.
In addition to video conferencing, the RC16 is also very suitable for most live broadcast scenarios.
In individual or multi-person live broadcasts, the existence of Auto Framing allows multiple participants to appear on screen in a proper position. Even if people are added or removed, the RC16 can automatically adjust the composition and maintain a relatively beautiful image. Even from a smaller personal perspective, there is no need to adjust the camera position repeatedly.
The Auto Framing of the RC16 may be awkward in a small number of scenarios. For example, the RC16 will automatically adjust the picture according to the person's movement; even if there is only one person in the image and their face is constantly moving, the RC16 will naturally adjust the composition frequently to make a fuzzy picture. Of course, if you encounter such a scenario, you can simply turn off the automatic frame selection function.
Want to be the focus of the screen? In addition to letting the RC16 adjust the image with Auto Framing, you can also use human body tracking to keep the lens focused on you at all times, producing a cinematic effect.
In a TV series, when the detective solves a case, the camera follows him, allowing the audience to follow him and immerse themselves in the plot. When Sherlock Holmes escapes from pursuit, the surrounding environment scurries, yet the camera remains relatively still, conveying tense and powerful emotions.
The body tracking of the RC16 is not as good as a professional video camera's movements, but it is not far off. With the help of the AI power of the RC16's powerful processor, the human body tracking will automatically extract the target features. No matter where the target is facing, it can achieve smooth lens tracking so that the speaker is always in the center of the screen.
Although it sounds similar to Auto Framing, body tracking does not adjust the picture with the addition of other people and has a larger viewing angle. For example, when a teacher is teaching students remotely, demonstrations are inevitable. The RC16 has a large shooting angle and great human body tracking ability, which can keep the picture focused on the teacher and transmit the image in real time. Students will not miss any details. Or in a multi-person conference, when the speaker needs to walk around to demonstrate in front of everyone, the camera will always focus on the speaker, so that you are always the focus of the picture.
Like Auto Framing, the mirror movement effect displayed by the RC16 is a bit cinematic when tracking the human body. Because the digital PTZ realizes it, the picture is very stable. Of course, like Auto Framing, the body tracking function is also built into the RC16, and it can also be used generally in most software platforms.
The above two functions are the core of the RC16, and they are very rare in similar products. It can do things that competing products cannot achieve.
In addition, the RC16 has some smaller functions, such as preset lens positions. Currently, the RC16 can preset two lens positions, zoom in and adjust the screen to the desired position, and long-press the number key to set; after setting, you can switch between different lens positions. You can even use this to shoot some short videos.
Please note that when the RC16 is turned on, these two AI functions are disabled by default. If you need to use them, you can call up the OSD menu through the remote control and select Enable in the menu, or use the remote control's function switch key (SWITCH). Choose between Humanoid Tracking and Auto Frame, then turn on or off these two functions through the ON and OFF keys. It should be noted that these two functions cannot work at the same time.
Yes, you are right; the RC16 is controlled by the built-in remote control, which is also where it is different from similar products.
Although this method of operation is a little simple, it ensures that most people can get started quickly. Even the new generation that grew up with smartphones can quickly grasp the meaning of each button by looking at the icons on the remote control. For example, the setting menu will appear directly on the screen when using the remote control to set. Many parameters of the camera, such as exposure mode, color saturation, white balance mode, gamma, etc., can be directly adjusted by the remote control, just as simple as remote controlling a TV. The RC16 almost directly transfers the adjustment functions of many professional cameras to a consumer-grade product.
2. The hardware is very powerful with a 4K ultra-high-definition resolution.
RC16 is known for its AI functions, but it does not mean that its hardware is not good. ROCWARE has spent a lot of effort on its hardware.
In terms of specs, the RC16 is equipped with an 8.29-megapixel camera, which supports the output of 4K/30 frames or 1080P/60 frames of resolution images, and a 110° ultra-wide-angle field of view. The Logitech C930c with the same price has only 3 million pixels, 1080P/30 frame output, and a 90° field of view.
The RC16 has two built-in microphones that support a 6-meter pickup. For comparison, the Logitech C930c with dual microphones can only pick up sound at 1 meter. However, the RC16 can achieve such a long pickup distance because the beamforming algorithm can accurately locate the sound source to achieve a long-distance and accurate pickup.
The so-called beamforming refers to adjusting the basic unit parameters of the phased array so that signals at certain angles obtain constructive interference while signals from other angles obtain destructive interference. The output signal of each array element is weighted, summed, and filtered; It finally outputs the speech signal in the desired direction, which is equivalent to forming a "beam"... Translated into simple terms, the RC16 relies on this algorithm to accurately locate the direction of the sound source, and then suppresses the interference signal in the non-target direction while increasing the sound signal in the target direction. The sound distance and quality that can be recorded will naturally be higher.
Within the category of peripheral cameras, the RC16 has a configuration far exceeding that of competing products at this price. There is another detail, RC16 can support WDR wide dynamic range at 1080P resolution, which is not available in many competing products of the same type; it can display a more detailed image.
The 4K picture that the RC16 can output is a maximum of 3840 x 2160, which is suitable for self-capturing or viewing other subjects. Do I need 4K now?
Native 720P (the 720P picture seen at the far end)
4K is limited to 720P (the RC16 picture seen by the far end)
It is normal to have doubts because, at present, many video conference and chat software will limit the transmitted video quality to 720P for the smoothness of the call, but 4K is 4K; even if it is limited to 720P by the software, the video is clearer. The speed, detail, and picture restoration are greater than native 720P. On the other hand, the 4K image quality provided by the RC16 can help content creators to record clearer video locally, which greatly facilitates post-production.
Therefore, the RC16 uses 4K resolution for higher definition and better communication with ROCWARE's commitment to function and quality.
Finally, let's talk about appearance. After all, it is a product designed to be brought to the office. A decent appearance will not attract unnecessary attention.
The overall shape of the RC16 is very similar to the RC08 we reviewed before. The main body of the fuselage is black, and the front is decorated with silver. The camera is located in the center of the fuselage, and the two sides house the microphone, the infrared receiver, and a 4K logo. Perhaps because the 4K image has higher requirements for the camera, and the camera has a more prominent protrusion, there is no way to have a built-in privacy slider like the RC08. So the RC16 used a very clever way to directly attach a privacy cover, which can be covered when not used.
Given the different thicknesses of conference whiteboards, large screens, or PCs, ROCWARE still reserves a standard screw hole for a tripod at the bottom of the RC16. In addition, the RC16 supports USB 3.0, which can be installed without a driver, and is compatible with operating systems such as Windows and macOS.
The RC16 has not fallen behind in terms of hardware and is still chasing the goal of being the best at this price range. As a result, its stronger configuration can adapt to more application scenarios, achieve better results, and avoid failing at critical moments, making much more sense than "just work."
3. The RC16 is a peripheral camera with great comprehensive ability.
Regarding the camera, the RC16 achieves the highest 4K ultra-high resolution. As well as 4K/30 frames and 1080P/60 frames of video. Having a higher resolution means you can transmit a clearer image. And the camera comes with automatic white balance, exposure, color, noise suppression, and other settings, so you can use it without additional knowledge, which is very user-friendly.
In addition, the RC16 innovatively added the body tracking and Auto Framing functions that are popular in other industries, which has a dimensional impact on similar products; cameras at the same price or even higher prices might not have the above functions
Although this article classifies the RC16 as a "peripheral camera," it is more than that; the hardware and software functions it uses exceed this category. For example, ROCWARE cameras are not just "cameras." Because the RC16, like mobile phones, has its CMOS and SOC chips, which can realize video processing and AI functions... Maybe the RC16 is the starting product in this category of intelligence.