Remote online working and learning has increased dramatically since the pandemic began, and the need to facilitate the offline collaborative aspects of work and education in the necessitated virtual environments has grown with it.
Viu is a webcam that offers a completely new way to communicate over online video, transforming any flat physical surface into a shareable platform - all in a friendly package with a tiny footprint.
Viu uses live image geometry correction to warp the surface seen by the camera, providing you with the viewpoint of an overhead camera, without the large footprint and bulky equipment. The result is a perfectly square top-down video feed of your desk, from a camera just 11cm off the surface. Inside Viu is a 12mp sensor with a 12mm wide angle lens that provides a 95° field of view to capture media sizes up to A3 paper.
It easily connects over wifi to your device, integrating with online communication tools as an input video source.
Viu has a considered form that conveys friendliness, approachability and responsiveness, one that is able to sit comfortably in 'home', 'work', and hybrid spaces. A neutral CMF approach provides a sense of calm to an often hectic work and learning life schedule. Viu responds to distinct changes in the ways we work, adapting to the dominance of virtual environments and digital communication whilst still enabling physical and paper-based practices to be translated, included and celebrated.
Viu has an intuitive yet simple interface with a tactile button to turn on and connect, a button to quickly take a snapshot of the cameras current view and charging port. For educational or casual use, this may be the only technical interaction with Viu required. For more advanced, creative or corporate use, further control can be accessed on device.
The humanised form allows users, especially younger ones, to quickly and easily infer what Viu can see, by making Viu 'look' at the space they are intending to share.
Viu in use
Viu in use
Viu with App
3D Printed Prototypes
Proof of Concept: working prototype
Working from home has been on a steady increase for the past two decades and has dramatically increased in the past year due to the pandemic. By the end of 2020, Zoom was receiving 300 million daily users, and research has shown that many workers plan to continue to work from home to some extent after a return to normality.
While sharing virtual media is well catered for, sharing any physical notes, sketches, concepts, mind-maps, post-its or anything else that may be generated off the computer screen is difficult to communicate online without large or intrusive equipment.
The need to facilitate the social and collaborative aspects of our lives in necessitated virtual environments is a growing problem for a wide range of users, from professionals, creatives, teachers and students, and one that requires a physical solution, which Viu aims to solve.
Viu is a webcam that utilises image geometry correction to warp flat surfaces in view to appear as if the camera is placed directly above the surface, all in an aesthetically pleasing yet highly compact form that will fit under most computer monitors. The all-in-one solution fits seamlessly into users existing work-from-home setup, transforming their online communication capabilities.
Innovating on technology used in visual effects and projections, the image geometry correction is a type of reverse keystoning, that when combined with a carefully selected lens and camera system, can enable any angle of capture to output a perfectly flat view of the user's document or surface.
Great consideration was also given to the aesthetic, ergonomic and manufacturing factors of the design. An appealing form, designed with minimal footprint and a neutral CMF, bring a humanised inquisitiveness with subtle personality, whilst ensuring suitability for a wide range of usage scenarios.
Primary research was carried out with a number of identified key personas from education, business and creative sectors. These interviews directly informed the key specifications of the product. Ethnographic research was used to determine workflows of online and offline communication, and the physical space constraints of the determined spaces, all of which enabled an informed design process in creating the final form and user interactions.
A working prototype of Viu was developed to aid decisions during the design process, and also to evaluate the concept during its final stages.
A program was written in Python that enabled the image geometry correction from a live video source. An iPhone camera was connected, which was used to simulate the camera inside Viu, due to its wide angle camera lens and high quality sensor.
A rig was 3D printed that held the iPhone camera in the same position as Viu's camera sensor would be. This then enabled a fully functioning prototype to be used.
Multiple rigs were 3D printed with different angles and positions, which was used to determine the correct angle for Viu's camera sensor.
Prototyping was also used during the form design of Viu, with multiple foam models, card models and 3D prints used to explore and develop the visual design language of Viu.
Viu was designed for manufacture, with a complete analysis of the injection moulded parts, and a design that allows for an easy assembly and disassembly process - aiding the right to repair. The environmental impact of the product was reduced by ensuring that the plastic components can be easily disassembled, allowing recyclable components to be separated, or replaced if required.