What do Content Cameras do and which one is best?

The term “Content Camera” is experiencing a veritable popularity boom. And though around here it is a common term, even a cursory market review demonstrates that there are multiple interpretations for this phrase.

In this article we’ll dissect the term “Content Camera” and help explain its meaning in different contexts. We’ll discuss what purpose these cameras serve and, importantly, who makes the best one.

Rise in Content Camera popularity

Source: Google Trends

First, let’s see what the fuss is about. As you can tell from the above chart, the term “Content Camera” has been steadily increasing in search popularity for years and is currently experiencing a noticeable pop.

At these levels, it has even begun to rival the search frequency of broader terms such as “hybrid learning” or “remote teams” (see below) – both of which are important terms around here. These terms are not selected at random; they reflect the same underlying forces that are driving the popularity for Content Camera searches.

As we will soon see, despite the differing interpretations of the term, we can identify a few key factors that all meanings share in common. For one, more and more interaction occurs at a distance – whether it’s for work, school, or pleasure, the frequency with which it happens online is only increasing. Second, as the number of contributors of online content increases (again, in whichever context), so too does the search for tools that make such contributions more effective. Let’s go deeper.

What's in a name?

To put it simply, every interpretation of “Content Camera” stems in one way or another from the two words comprising this term: it’s about sharing some form of content over video. Users looking for a Content Camera are looking to show, amplify, or otherwise boost the visibility of something (as opposed to someone) during a video-based interaction.

The key differences, however, lie in the “thing” to be amplified. Here we see two major interpretations: content which is more conceptual in nature, and content that is more concrete/physical.

The original Content Camera

The conceptual camp can claim being first to this discussion. The reason is simple: video conferencing focused historically on connecting people (and this is largely still true today). The priority was making it easy for folks to communicate and interact with each other from a distance. Eventually, of course, those people wanted to do more than just look at each other and whether they connected in a personal, professional, or educational context, they wanted to share some content with the person(s) on the other side.

While sharing digital content at a distance is a relatively easy task, sharing analog content (e.g., writing on a whiteboard or printed materials) is naturally more difficult to present in high fidelity over a camera. As anyone participating in a remote whiteboarding session or joining a class from a distance can attest, such content is often pale and illegible even over the best cameras (not to mention often obstructed by folks in the room).

To address these issues, the Content Camera was born. Here the term “camera” can mean both a physical device as well as the software acting as an accompanying lens of sorts. Key players in this field include ShareTheBoard’s Content Camera, as well as Microsoft’s “Content from Camera” feature, to name a few. For more information on key players – read on.

The “stuff-focused” Content Camera

Lately, a new interpretation of “Content Camera” has been driven and accelerated by the rise in influencer videos and a further fragmentation of content publishing online. Anyone can create content and people are filling increasingly specialized niches; those niches often cover topics that involve physical items.

Thus, influencers reviewing beauty products, for example, look for cameras to highlight predominantly three-dimensional, physical content. In this scenario, the priority is ease of use (for what is often a single person running a meeting) and ability to deliver close up views of physical objects, over a flat surface.

These cameras, could be considered a subset of “content creator cameras” – or any camera preferred by those who regularly publish content online. This broader term would include devices that specialize in other types of content capture, including motion-optimized or interview-optimized cameras.

It’s also worth noting that the line between content cameras (in this interpretation) and “document cameras” is increasingly blurred. Document cameras are often used for nearby physical objects but their primary purpose usually entails amplifying the two-dimensional content written upon those objects – in that sense, they could even be considered a hybrid of the first and second interpretations of “content cameras.” For this reason, we sometimes see the term “desktop visualizer” used as a broader definition, encompassing both the “stuff-focused” content camera and the document camera.

Who makes the best Content Camera?

Without any false modesty, we can proudly say that ShareTheBoard’s Content Camera is in many ways at the top of the list. Here are our key arguments:

  • First and foremost, ShareTheBoard’s Content Camera can actually turn any camera into a content camera!
  • As a software solution, the STB Content Camera requires no specialized hardware investment, complex installation or maintenance
  • ShareTheBoard makes it laughably easy to seamlessly share written content over video: it amplifies text, makes it interactive for remote viewers, and saves it – all in real time
  • Now, with the magic of AI, ShareTheBoard can even digitize and analyze any handwritten content, effectively turning every analog surface into a digital input
  • To top it all off, it can even be used as a document camera by simply running the app on a camera pointed toward one’s desk

There are other software-based alternatives, such as Microsoft’s “Content from Camera” feature but these often produce less accurate results and lack ShareTheBoard’s capabilities around remote interaction, memory and security, or AI-based analysis.

Next in line we find a series of specialized, hardware-based content cameras. These are often referred to more specifically as “whiteboard cameras” for the simple reason that they’re physically mounted over/across from whiteboards. In this category we’ll find the Huddly Canvas, the Logitech Scribe, or Whiteboard Owl, to name a few. These devices also typically do not offer memory, interactivity or AI-based analysis. Also, as hardware, they’re less mobile and scalable than ShareTheBoard. They also carry a higher price tag and require special installation and maintenance.

Finally, we have a new batch of cameras aimed at highlighting physical and not necessarily written content – the “stuff-based” content cameras. As mentioned earlier, these are primarily focused on the ease of showing close-ups of physical content over a flat surface (often in front of their presenter). Examples in this category include the Hue HD or the Logitech Reach.

Go forth, and share content clearly!

We hope that makes things clearer – as clear as the content you’ll share henceforth! If you still have questions or if you’ve come across a different interpretation for the term “content camera,” write to us and we’ll be happy to update our post.

Finally, if you’re trying to decide which Content Camera is right for you, first answer what kind of content you’re hoping to share. If your goal is to amplify handwritten content, printed content, or even flatter desk-based content, ShareTheBoard offers you the best bang for your buck.

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