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Eyecam Review – The Real iCam

What could possibly make video conferencing and Zoom calls infinitely worse? Eyecam!


Eyecam Is Thing For A New Generation

Does anyone remember Thing from The Addams Family? Tell me that this monstrosity wouldn’t fit right in! Go on, tell me! Thing is a disembodied hand, this can be Me, the disembodied eye! Get it? Eye… I… Me? See what I did there? Hold your applause, do you know what’s even more horrific? IT’S ANAMOTRNIC!

So, the mad genius behind this is Marc Teyssier, the lead researcher at Human-Computer Interaction Lab at Saarland University in Germany. His team specializes in essentially making modern gadgets easier to get along with, humanizing them (quite literally it seems) so the interaction isn’t so inorganic. I basically see this guy as trying to make machines less like Data and more like Dahj. He seems interested in making them fully functional as well, wanting them to respond to human emotions and even touch. 

The creep factor and actual current real-world applications aside, the technology is incredible. The software is available on Github and runs on a combination of Rasberry Pi and an Arduino Nano to run the servos. Six of those manipulate the eyebrow and eyelid for incredibly lifelike motion and expression. The damn thing will track you and even respond in surprise along with other emotions. An artificial skeleton surrounding a repurposed webcam lens in the prosthetic eyeball is surrounded in a silicone “skin” wrapper. 

The idea behind humanizing it is that it’s supposed to be easier to form an emotional bond with the person you are video conferencing with. Something tells me they are forgetting the idea of the Uncanny Valley by about a continent. I see this more as helping along the way to creating a realistic android like Data. We have realistic dolls for the body, a functional nose, a working mouth, and now the eyes! We are nearly there!

This Was Not The Beginning

Marc has also skinned his potential android, but started by making your phone something you can pinch and pet inappropriately. I honestly think I’m more disturbed by this thing than the disembodied eye. 

Again, technical speaking, it’s pretty amazing! Using a copper mesh sandwiched between two silicon layers.. one an unsettling realistic analog of raw chicken that is supposed to look like human skin, it can detect things like a pinch, press, even a stroke. These touches can be interpreted as anger, attention-seeking, and providing comfort. As the owner of an Apple Repair facility, I don’t think I want to have to add a counselor to my resume for iPhones that have been beaten by their owners. Also, just look at this!!

Eyecam Human skin case

Considering the existence of Rule 34, the direction this is headed is very worrisome. Pretty sure there is a good reason the gadgets in Star Trek are not covered in SKIN! Let’s go full android, not piece by piece m’kay? 

Thoughts? Contact us!

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Ryszard (Rick) Gold, From Calgary, Alberta, Canada has over 20 years of experience working with Apple products in a technical capacity. Passionate about technology in general, his natural troubleshooting abilities, curiosity and appreciation of good design lead him into working exclusively with Apple Computer products.
Ryszard Gold
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