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What is a Document Camera Used For?

Wolfvision VZ7D / VZ-5F Visualizers

Document Camera Experts is the leading document camera supplier in the United States of America and Canada, providing unbeatable document camera knowledge and customer support for document cameras, visualizers or digital presenters. But what is a document camera used for, and why should you want a document camera for your presentations?

A document camera, also called a digital visual presenter or visualizer, is one of the latest ways to add interactive and exciting visual technology to your presentation, whether it be in a classroom, training room, video conferencing suite, boardroom or courtroom. Document cameras are the latest electronic imaging devices which can be used to display real three dimensional objects, pages from a book, artwork or even people!

In case you have not seen a document camera or digital presenter in action, in its purest form a document camera is essentially a camera which is elevated on a stand and pointed downwards. The document camera displays on a screen (which could be a computer or LCD monitor or a projection screen) whatever is placed beneath the document camera�s lens.

One of the huge benefits of using a document camera alongside your presentation equipment is that a document camera can effectively allow big or small audiences to easily view details of two dimensional or three dimensional objects which would otherwise be very difficult for audiences to see. This could be because the object being displayed using the document camera is very small, or because of limitations relating to the subject�s remoteness or simply the power of the human eye. The document camera can therefore allow presenters to overcome these difficulties with ease, providing an engaging presentation using visual material which might otherwise be inaccessible without a document camera.

Another feature of visualizers or document cameras is that these types of visual presentation aids have been designed with the aim of making collaboration between colleagues and peers easier � and adding to this is the fact that document cameras are extremely easy to use for anyone in the group. Document cameras are a key tool in helping group members take in and retain information using visual display technology.

A document camera could be the perfect accessory for your presentation equipment if you or your organization is one of the following:

  • An education institution (document cameras can be very useful for stimulating students and keeping them engaged)

  • A company providing training services (document cameras are perfect for displaying training material to a class)

  • Corporations (document cameras can encourage group participation and productivity in meetings)

  • A Court of law (document cameras can be used to display two dimensional documents or three dimensional evidence for all those present in the courtroom to see)

  • A Broadcast studio (document cameras can be used to highlight hard to see documents, for example in a news room)

  • Anyone using video conferencing (document cameras can be used in combination with video conferencing equipment to share live images of 2D or 3D objects with conference participants)

  • A Science Laboratory (display close up science experiments with a document camera so that all members of the class or workers can see the experiment clearly)

  • A Dental Lab (you can use a document camera to display x-rays and other material on a large screen)

  • Medical Research (a document camera can be used to show experiments or research progress and results clearly)

  • Presentations (anyone giving a presentation can add interactivity and excitement using images captured using a document camera)

Document Cameras Compared To Overhead Projectors

In recent years the growth of many types of technology has been extremely rapid. Information technology and visual presentation technology are two of the most obvious examples of this explosion in growth, and the document camera, as a type of visual presentation technology, is no exception. The technology behind document cameras built on existing technology used in over head projector (OHP) applications. However, there are many advantages that document cameras have over their OHP projector predecessors:

Firstly, document cameras do not require acetates, transparencies, vu-foils or prepared slides like overhead projectors do, although a document camera is still perfectly capable of displaying information from many of these mediums. And despite their name, document cameras are not restricted to displaying just documents � in fact one of the document camera�s key features is that it can display a three dimensional object in great detail, whereas an overhead projector would only be able to display a shadow.

The benefits of the document camera�s three dimensional imaging capability has been built upon by integrating document cameras with interactive white boards, video conferencing applications, telemedicine systems and even touch screens.

The History of the Document Camera

Overhead projectors were a very popular type of visual presentation aid until the late 1980s, when their popularity began to decline rapidly. In order to offset this decline in popularity and usage, the document camera was invented and introduced by two companies at the same time � Wolfvision and Elmo.

Elmo Co. Ltd., based out of Nagoya in Japan, had been working on their "EV-308 visual presenter", and Wolfvision had been working on their "visual overhead". In 1988 Photokina saw the introduction of both of these models.

Since the document camera relies very heavily on some type of display to be a useful visual presentation aid, the advances and developments in display technology really paved the way for the development of the document camera.

Although analog video output was the standard means of outputting video back when document cameras were first developed, the connectivity of document cameras has improved significantly with advancements in digital display technology. Nowadays, an XGA resolution (1024 x 768 pixels) output is commonly used side by side with composite video and s-video to output video from document cameras.

Today one of the key benefits of a document camera is that it can be interfaced with other interactive hardware and visual communication devices, for example with video conferencing equipment, which means that document cameras allow presenters to display their chosen subject matter with greater impact and using three dimensional images.

Collaboration between everyone from students in the classroom to technicians in a laboratory is made easier on both a local and global scale, since document cameras can assist in providing faster and more efficient decision making by making providing audiences world wide with a much larger amount of visual information, and providing them with a stimulating environment in which this information can be retained.

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