If holidays 2020 have demonstrated anything, it’s that our current video-chatting gear, built for the desk not the living room, doesn’t scale to groups.
A comfortable couple can get by, huddled in front of a shared laptop, but otherwise, unless everyone has a web-camera device of their own, audio and video quality plummet into indecipherable fuzz (and even with a one-device-per-person setup there are bandwidth and audio feedback issues to contend with).
Oliver and I have tried a combination of a wide-angle external webcam and a screen projector, but ergonomics and site lines have proved challenging. That said, this setup has allowed for a more casual stance and freedom from having to maintain eye contact; it also provides others with more context for our setting, as they can place us in the room we’re in, as opposed to just the wall slice we’re in front of.
My ideal setup would combine individual close-up cameras for each person with a context-setting wide angle, plus smart enough audio processing to filter out feedback. A useful upsell accessory would be a downward-facing camera that could be used for object sharing, tabletop game play, and so on.
I wonder if this could be achieved with a single ceiling-mounted device that would use face-detection to carve out the individual person-streams, plus directional microphones to isolate voices.
I would be willing to engage in nightly beta testing, by way of Zoom-charades, if the opportunity presented.