Judd Apatow: “…Skype doesn’t really work because the camera is above the image. If I’m looking into the camera, which makes me look kind of normal, I can’t see you. But if I look at you, I look like I’m not looking at you. It’s just a mind-fuck. We need the technology of a camera in the center of the screen, but invisible. That’s what Steve Jobs would be doing if he were alive—working on an invisible, middle-of-screen camera.”
Apatow and Lena Dunham grace the cover of the newest edition of Fast Company.
Photo by Art Streiber
I’m glad SOMEONE finally came out and said this. Also, Judd Apatow is a genius. <3
This isn’t actually a new insight. People have been saying this for years — it’s a VERY well-known problem in video conferencing systems and there are all kinds of approaches for dealing with it.
The simplest method is to use distance. In commercial conferencing system, the camera and screen are a good distance away from you, which doesn’t eliminate the problem but minimizes it becuase the angle between the two is smaller.
However, this obviously doesn’t work for personal systems where you’re right in front of your computer and/or where you want it to feel like you and the other person are face-to-face instead of seated around a conference table.
To solve this, a number of manufacturers have developed screen which are also themselves cameras — the camera elements are actually distributed throughout the screen. I think the big issue is that this hasn’t been done in a way that works well at a consumer price point, although I haven’t stayed super on top of it.
But here is an article about an Apple patent from 2006 that specifically mentions the problem above and the solution above as a way around it. I know that a number of other manufacturers have been pursuing the same idea from similarly way back or earlier.