Meet Swivl, The Motion Tracking iPhone Dock That Always Keeps You On Camera

Oh, the wonderful world we live in. Less than a year ago, I was meeting with the two-man team that was Satarii in their garage-office to check out a product they called the “Star”. It was a camera dock of sorts, but with a fun twist: it’d automatically follow your movements, keeping you constantly in frame while shooting video.

At the time, they had two prototypes: a small, dead, spray-painted plastic “looks like” prototype, and a working prototype that was about the size of a Christmas ham. And yet, it was clear they were on to something.

This morning, the team is debuting the final evolution of the Star: meet Swivl.

This thing is best explained with video, so I’ll let their demo do the talking:

Basically: Snap your iPhone (or other, similarly sized camera) in, slap the marker somewhere on your person (or hold it), hit record, and the Swivl will twist and turn to keep you in the shot. Need a video of you skateboarding, but have no camera man? Need to have a “hands free” Facetime session for one reason or another (hey, I’m not asking questions)? That’s where the Swivl comes in.

Things have changed rather drastically since the last time I spoke with them, seemingly all for the better:

  • The Swivl can now charge Apple devices while in use, and video recording can be started/stopped via the wireless marker
  • While their original price goal was “under $200”, the pre-order price and estimated retail price is now set at $159.99
  • The original prototypes I saw could only turn horizontally; the final product can tilt vertically, as well.

I do wonder how loud the motors are during rotation. The motors on the original prototype were loud enough to be caught on the docked camera’s recording, and it’s interesting that almost all of the footage in the demo video above is completely dubbed over with the soundtrack. A bit of buzzing and whirring is, of course, almost unavoidable.

The Star Swivl is set to launch (product page here) in North America come “early 2012”, though that’s about as specific as they’re getting on the launch window. I can’t wait. Congrats, guys!