Electronic Design

FireWire Provides Web Cam Near Digital-Video Performance

The iBOT FireWire Desktop Video Camera works with FireWire-equipped PCs and Macs. Produced by Mac developer Orange Micro, this device achieves near digital-video performance by using FireWire instead of USB.

The iBOT uses the same IEEE-1394 technology that many high-end digital-video cameras currently use as a basis. This Web cam also can sustain a rate of 30 frames/s at a color image size of 640 by 480 pixels. These rates are for noncompressed, full-motion digital video.

While USB supports a sustained data-transfer rate of only 1.5 Mbytes/s, Fire-Wire manages 50 Mbytes/s. With this enhancement, the iBOT outperforms USB-based Web cams by six or more frames/s at large image sizes. Complete with a 0.25-in. color CCD image sensor and a 3.5-mm soundcard microphone input for the PC, the system supports complete plug-and-play specifications.

A USB adapter is required for systems lacking a 3.5-mm microphone jack. Host systems must provide 32 Mbytes of RAM. The iBOT's lens can be focused from 1 cm to infinity. Also, it provides a 62° angle of view. Up to two cameras per bus may be supported simultaneously.

This device targets the videoconferencing market. By increasing Internet connection speeds, the iBOT enables a more impressive videoconferencing experience than conventional Web cams. It also comes equipped with software specifically for videoconferencing. Supported by basic video-editing capabilities included in the software, the iBOT can be used as an effective digital-video camera as well.

With the iBOT, users can record and save video or emphasize important presentations with film clips. Its high data-transfer speed lets users easily input, edit, and play high-quality videos.

Two versions are available. The iBOT includes a basic software package for video teleconferencing and photo editing. The iBOT Pro ships with an analog headset microphone as well as software for video teleconferencing, photo editing, and video editing. The Pro version also provides a 3.5-mm Mac PlainTalk adapter. Both versions come with Mac and PC software.

The iBOT sells for $119, and the iBOT Pro costs $149. Currently available online, both will soon be marketed in retail stores.

Orange Micro Inc., 1400 N. Lakeview Ave., Anaheim, CA 92807; (714) 779-2772; www.orangemicro.com.

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