Here at MSB Executive, we’re big fans of BBC TV’s Dragon’s Den. Usually we find ourselves looking at the pitchers’ performance, but in one recent episode it was the product being pitched that grabbed our attention.
The View-You Cam
Pitchers Dan Baker and Jonathan Pykett claim they have found the solution to a problem that plagues online meetings: the impossibility of simultaneous eye-contact. They call their invention the View-You Cam. Their device clips onto the top of a monitor or a laptop lid and has a camera which sits in front of your screen. You can slide this camera up and down or side to side to rest at any point across your screen. The idea is that you place the camera in front of the face of the person you are speaking to. As a result, you both have the impression of eye contact.
The dragons all choose to pass on the £150,000 ask, though not without giving the product some serious consideration. One dragon objects that the patent (which is still pending) is not robust enough. Other dragons agree that the device could easily be copied, and probably bettered, by a larger tech outfit. Given that the pitchers were only at prototype stage, they could well be beaten to market. Another dragon points out that nimbler solutions – including cameras embedded behind the screen – are in development.
What did we think?
The dragons praise the pitchers for identifying a real problem. We certainly agree! Without true eye contact, online meetings can be hard going, and people tend to feel disconnected from one another. We also agree that Baker and Pykett make a gallant attempt but have not quite found the right solution. We agree that the device is clunky and that all that fiddling around risks interrupting rather than enriching the flow of communication.
On the other hand, until alternative or better solutions come along, the View-you-Cam could be a useful improvement on the status quo. It could be a long time before embedded screen cameras are affordable and in widespread use.
How can MSB help?
Making a great impact at online meetings is a topic we at MSB Executive regularly cover in coaching sessions, webinars and workshops. Eye contact is an issue we frequently discuss. The great news is that our brilliant solutions do not require any technology or expenditure. Why not have a look at this blog on the subject of eyeline when presenting to camera. If you want to dive deeper, we also cover eye contact in this blog on setting yourself up for a webinar and this one on Zoom fatigue. Alternatively, why not get in touch with us to find out how we can support your remote and hybrid teams?