Whether it’s distance, pandemics, or both that separate you from your elderly loved ones, what’s the best idea for communicating with them so they don’t suffer from loneliness on top of issues like dementia? We’d say it’s probably something like [Stefan Baur]’s Grannophone.
Back in late 2020, a Twitter user named [Nitek] asked the Internet what could be done in the way of a grandma-friendly video-conferencing solution, provided Grandma has a TV and a broadband internet connection. At first, [Stefan] was like, just get her an old iPad and FaceTime with her. But the question got him thinking. And prototyping.
Grannophones are essentially Linux machines with a video-capable SIP client connected over a VPN for privacy reasons. In simple mode, picking up the handset of one Grannophone will call the other, but more complicated configurations are possible. We particularly like that replacing the handset automatically obscures the camera. That’s a nice touch.
At this point, the Grannophone is a work in progress. The idea is that they be extremely easy to build at the kitchen table, like on the order of disposable Swedish furniture. If you can contribute to the project, please do. Be sure to check out the demonstration video after the break.
On the other hand, if Granny is 1337, you could always video-conference in terminal.
Continue reading “Grannophone Helps You Stay In Touch”
A recent experiment showed that parrots seem considerably enriched by the ability to video call other parrots. It’s important that the activity be done in a healthy and ethical way, so researchers do not recommend bird caretakers immediately slap a spare tablet in front of every bird — but the results are as heartwarming as they are encouraging.
Parrots are intelligent creatures known to require and benefit from intellectual and emotional stimulation, and their eyesight is such that they are able to use a display like a tablet screen much like a human would. They are also social creatures, and that led to researchers designing a pilot study to explore a parrot-to-parrot videoconferencing system.
The three-month study showed that when given the opportunity to initiate and receive video calls, every single parrot in the test group did so and all bird caretakers reported perceived benefits. Birds made friends, seemed highly motivated, and even learned behaviors by watching others.
Curious about the details? The published results (a PDF and two brief videos) covers all the bases. Parrot pals may also remember another time that technology enriched a feathered friend with a motorized buggy complete with beak-compatible joystick for steering.
Considering the state of well, everything, we can’t tell you how glad we are to be out of school. That goes double for not being a teacher these days. [Elena] had some awesome light-up tactile buttons set aside for a killer Kerbal Space Program controller, but it’s funny how a pandemic will change your priorities. Instead, those buttons found a good home in this colorful and enticing Zoom control panel.
[Elena]’s ready pile of Arduinos yielded no Leonardos or Pro Micros, but that’s okay because there’s a handy bootloader out there that allows you to reprogram the USB interface chip of an Uno or a Mega and use it as a keyboard. After setting that up, it was mostly a matter of wiring all those latching and momentary buttons and LEDs to the Mega and making them look fantastic with a set of icons. (We all know the big red mushroom button is for aborting the call; so does it really need an icon?)
[Elena] was inspired by the Zoom call-terminating pull chain we saw a month or so ago as well as the pink control box that launched a thousand or so macro keyboards. Have you made your own sanity-saving solution for our times? Let us know!
More people working from home has had an impact on the cost and availability of USB webcams, so [Jeff Geerling] got around the issue with a DIY solution that rang in around $100. It consists of a Raspberry Pi and HQ camera module acting as a USB webcam, and there is no messy streaming of ffmpeg over the network masquerading as a camera device or anything. It works just as a USB camera should.
[Jeff] chose a Raspberry Pi Zero and HQ camera module for his unit, making a tidy package that might not be quite as small as commercial webcams, but is certainly perfectly respectable as a USB camera. That being said, there are a few drawbacks, namely the lack of a microphone or autofocus, latency issues at higher resolutions, and the need to shut down the Pi cleanly.
Check out the GitHub repository for everything needed to set up your own, including a complete hardware list and some options for mounting. [Jeff] also tested whether the camera would work with the new keyboard-embedded Raspberry Pi 400, and it absolutely does. Embedded below is a video walkthrough and demonstration of the whole project, so check it out.
Continue reading “USB Webcams Out Of Stock? Make One With A Raspberry Pi And HQ Camera Module”
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.
Continue reading “An Easy Hack For Working With Your Hands On Video Calls”