Logitech cameras with digital zoom have gained the ability to track human faces and keep them centered on the screen, a trick usually reserved for much more expensive cameras.
The cameras became available last month and cost in the $79 range.
Using technology from A4-Vision, Logitechs stationary camera uses skin tones, facial features and motion such as eye blinks and head tilts to locate and zoom in on a subjects face. I used a "Dr. Evil" decoy to try to fool the camera, but to no avail. The digital-zoom-equipped camera was able to zoom in even when my face was backlit against the floor-to-ceiling windows in our San Francisco lab.
The product had trouble tracking me if I moved at a normal pace. I purposely had to slow my gait to allow the cameras track-and-zoom to keep up with me. But the cool thing is that the camera itself doesnt physically move. So even though it couldnt always follow me, when it did, it was hard to believe there wasnt a human operator at the controls.
The software guiding the cameras operation recovered nicely when it couldnt find a face. Basically, the system pulls back to the maximum field of view, operating the same way it does when the face-tracking feature is turned off.
The system also pulled back to the maximum field of view if it recognized that two faces were in the same shot. This proved to be far better than having to turn off face recognition so that two people could get into the same frame.
Although it was easy enough to fool the Logitech camera by simply placing a hand where my face should be (it zoomed in on the hand more than twice), the software worked well enough that users who want to make sure they are the center of attention during an IM chat will get their wish.