We all have a Dick Tracy tucked inside, wanting to make video calls from our watches just to prove we can, or because we don’t want to take our phones with us everywhere we go. Now thanks to Wrist camerawe can all have a camera for Apple Watch … and achieve phone freedom.
Plus, of course, video calls from our wrists.
“Wristcam … turns your Apple Watch into a dual HD camera,” said Ari Roisman, CEO of Wristcam.old me recently on the TechFirst podcast. “You have a front camera for quick, candid selfies and for live video chat. And then you have a world-facing camera that captures 4K photos, 1080p videos and… that’s pretty cool.
All this tech, plus a battery, is stuck in a strap for your Apple Watch. And more, says co-founder Matt Frischer:
“There is a ton of amazement under the hood of this device: a standalone battery, an outward facing sensor, an outward facing sensor, two microphones, LEDs that will light up as you capture, because we are very attentive to the people are in the world with cameras worn on the body that we do not introduce any discomfort to others … “
And that’s pretty cool.
The wrist camera was announced in December 2020 and is now a real live shipping thing. The company sent me a sample to test, but thousands of customers have already purchased them, Roisman says. Which is good news: So many prototypes don’t materialize, but this one is being built with former engineers from Apple and other big tech companies. That’s right, it’s smooth, it’s packaged like Tiffany’s jewelry in a decidedly premium metal box, and it takes decent photos.
Don’t plan on entering photography contests, however.
The company doesn’t try to compete with “premium iPhone camera quality,” Roisman says. It’s basically DSLR level now. Rather, it’s about capturing something for a memory that otherwise you might miss and forget.
In other words: make the landscape, not the macro.
For example, it works, even though my subject is far from inspiring:
This, however, does not. As you can see, the background is sharp while the centered foreground object, a flower, is decidedly not.
As you would expect from a team with a former Apple engineer, the integration into the entire Apple Watch experience is impressive:
“Hands-free control is really cool,” says Roisman. “We support Siri commands, so you can start and stop a video with Siri. You can invoke the app with Siri just with your voice.
Listen to our conversation on the TechFirst podcast:
And yes, there is a physical button so that when you’re surfing, diving or riding a bike, you can find it without having to worry about touchscreen invoked apps or Siri. After all, Siri might not hear you in a noisy environment, and underwater all bets are off.
Live video works with other people with Wristcams and Apple Watches, no other technology is required as long as you have connectivity via WiFi or LTE, and with iPhones. It’s impressive, and with voice control where possible, it’s not too difficult to achieve.
According to Roisman, this is only the beginning.
“We’re in the early stages of this,” he told me. “The native Apple Watch App Store, like the App Store actually on the Apple Watch, is new. There are still a limited number of pixels on the Apple Watch, although there are more pixels on the latest generation of Apple Watch than on the original iPhone. I think it’s only a matter of time until the developers really embrace and appreciate the value of this emerging portable display, as it’s the most accessible, and I think over time it will. will become the highest point of contact for consumers engaging with software.
Wristcam worked well for me other than the close ups. The battery drains quickly, especially when filming, and while the strap is comfortable, expect challenges with tighter long jacket sleeves. I had a hard time wearing it when I put on boxing gloves for training, for example.
But usually it’s unnoticeable until you need it. At this point, you press the button, ask Siri to work the magic, or laboriously check your Apple Watch apps to find the right little icon.
And then you take pictures … with your watch. Later, you can access them on the companion iPhone app and share or save them wherever you want.
So would I buy one?
At $ 300, it doesn’t come cheap. And while the pictures work for a keepsake, they aren’t amazing. In other words, don’t plan to use them for Instagram. It’s quite simple, it’s quite practical, and it allows you to leave the phone at home.
“We’re not trying to compete with the quality of high-end iPhone cameras,” says Roisman. “I mean, the iPhone has really become the equivalent of a DSLR. But we’ve been able to pack a lot of camera quality and capability into a very small form factor which I think is pretty handy, and our users are happy with it. And it captures HD video from both cameras, and I can just capture things that I would otherwise miss. “
I understand. This is a valid use case.
But do I really want to leave my phone at home, that is the question. My phone is a computer from which I can manage my life. It is communication and calculation, connection and research, fun and hard work. And today’s phones – unless you’re rocking a fablette – are pretty easy to use. (I am using the iPhone 11 Pro as my daily driver and have a ZTE Axon 5G for an Android benchmark.)
Part of the fun of going to amazing places is having amazing memories to share, and I can’t see myself doing that with lower quality images.
That said, if you’re not the one to have to share everything right now, it could be great for the memory. Especially, of course, given that it represents one less connection to civilization, the 9 to 5 and anyone who wants a piece of you.
As tempting as it sounds.