A few years ago, Vlad Tetelbaum and Brian Lamb were two product designers who had an idea to create a product that could help people video themselves.
The genesis of the idea centered initially around athletic instruction—all of those golf lessons and tennis lessons—with students becoming self-conscious of the video camcorder staring at them.
“We thought, ‘what if you could put your iPhone into a device that could track your movements and take videos automatically?’ ” explained Tetelbaum. “Sort of like a personal cameraman. We both had a product design background; my background was in electrical engineering and software, and Brian’s background was in product design and mechanical engineering. And we were working on products like laser measurement tools and projects for RealD, Viewsonic and Polaroid, but we wanted to go out on our own.”
So they started Satarii, which means “intuitive coach.” And using that mantra, the original Swivl was born.
The Swivl is a device that holds an iPhone, or a similar device, and is able to automatically swivel from side to side and up and down, tracking the subject as it records. The device is comprised of a sensor-enabled motorized base that responds to a marker that is held or placed on the subject. Think about applications like recording a golf swing or a tennis serve. While it was originally targeted for sports, it now has a much broader application.
“We thought about the education and business presenters market,” said Tetelbaum. “Instructors in schools could use this to record their lessons, especially for online classes, which are becoming more and more popular. And developing presentations for webinars is another great Swivl application for businesses.”
The key to the Swivl is a fob that the presenter (or athlete) can wear around their neck.
“We have a little fob that has a tracking function and a wireless mic,” said Tetelbaum. “Using IR, it can track someone up to 10 meters away, and the wireless mic can be used for recording. So, imagine an instructor walking around a room, giving a lesson—with the video device tracking their movement and the mic recording the lesson. It has become a very popular product in the education market.”
Their next step was to broaden the product application beyond a phone video application. “We have our product on Kickstarter, and people started to inquire as to whether we can build a Swivl to hold a DSLR or iPad, which would broaden the applications. So our new Swivl can do just that.”
The new Swivl product holds a DSLR or an iPad, and users can control the camera’s functions remotely from an iPhone or iPad. “One of our major targets for the new product are those in photography or video production who are looking for hands-free robotic motion; for example, if you’re running a couple of cameras setups, or looking for time-lapse photography. It’s also perfect for nature photography. With the new Swivl, you can control many of the camera functions remotely with your smartphone.”
The new Swivl still uses the marker and wireless mic, but users can also control the action of turning left, up, right, down and other functions via a USB connection to the camera using PTP protocol. In essence, the Swivl helps play the role of a camera operator from a remote location.
The current Swivl is available now, and Vlad Tetelbaum and Brian Lamb hope to have the new Swivl on the market by July 2013. For more information go to newswivl.com, or contact Tetelbaum at email@example.com.