Video calls have become our new reality for over a year now but that doesn’t make them any less inconvenient, and for many, a poor replacement for face-to-face meetings. Knowing this, researcher Marc Teyssier and his team from Saarland University have tried to bring an emotional element to the interactions, building a human eye webcam.
As you can imagine, Teyssier didn’t actually use a human eye but an anthropomorphic robotic webcam that looks very close to the real thing. It’s not his first endeavor of this type, as he is also the man behind this skinny phone!
Like that device, this wide-eyed webcam has the purpose to emulate an emotional connection. The only difference is this webcam is focused on team interactions during work hours. Behind the eerie skin, there is a webcam sensor and lens, both surrounded by a fake silicone skull that supports the eyelids and animated brow.
Six electric servos stand in for muscles, with an Arduino Nano controlling all the motions and a Raspberry Pi Zero connecting it to the PC as a normal USB webcam.
The eye blinks and looks around the room like a human eye would, without a real purpose to it, however. The researchers are still a while away from replicating the actual eye movement of a real interlocutor on the other side of the screen.
Still, this is an interesting beginning. If you’re intrigued and want to test it or maybe even make it better, you should know the project is open source and the digital files can be found on Github.