An Easy Hack For Working With Your Hands On Video Calls

Video calls are okay. While some advocate for the benefit of body language over a standard phone call, they remain an imperfect substitute for in-person interaction. [Amos] wanted to be able to demonstrate things better when on a video chat, so devised this simple solution for when he’s working with his hands.

The hack consists of a mirror attached to a clothespeg with a flexible piece of wire. This simple device can then be clipped to the screen of a laptop, and the mirror adjusted to allow the webcam to view the user’s desk. By positioning it correctly, the user can both show their desk and their face together, in split screen. It’s a great way to explain something while giving viewers a clear shot of your face and your hands at the same time.

It’s not exactly complicated, but a nifty hack that could prove useful to anyone trying to teach without having to muck about with complicated digital handwriting setups or multiple webcams. There’s a shortage at the moment, anyway. If you’re looking for a way to chat with your less tech savvy relatives, consider repurposing an old Android tablet. Video after the break.

7 thoughts on “An Easy Hack For Working With Your Hands On Video Calls

  1. Having done online teaching since the early 2000s (really), I’ll say this is a good start but you’ll soon move to a proper camera, even if it’s a $12 special taped to an old desk lamp, since the recipients will be working on various sizes of screens and you may need to go between camera/your screen/the paper/diagrams etc. very quickly.

  2. Reminds me of a bunch of YouTube synthesizer demo/tutorials where you’re really interested in seeing the knobs, but it’s still nice to see a person’s face b/c, well, human beings just be like that. See Cuckoo’s vids, for instance.

    He just puts a mirror down on the table for the world’s simplest split-screen. Bam, done, brilliant.

    In both cases, focus is a (minor) problem. Cuckoo just lets his face blur out a tiny bit and keeps the emphasis on the keyboard. Here, it looks like the person and the “display” are about the same distance, so both in focus. Clever.

  3. Nice quick hack.
    Now level up and use a second 45-degree mirror to the side and make a periscope arrangement: Will fix the goofy angle problem, and the mirrored-image problem.
    (Though, personally, like Thinkerer suggests, I use a second webcam on a gooseneck – solves many problems.)

  4. I see this will be a boon for Italians!
    You want to see an example of frustration, tie the hands of an Italian behind his back when conversing with him.
    (just kidding! I love (most of) my Sicilian relatives!)

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