IPEVO Ziggi Review

Camera attached to computer

Have you ever done the dance of holding a sketch up to your computer’s webcam or taken pictures of them with your iPhone to email to yourself or to colleagues? I’ve done that sort of thing for all of the years that I’ve worked remotely on design and development teams, because scanners get tired real fast.

Frustrated with this process, I had largely given up, until a few months ago when I was looking for tools to share work on paper between students and teachers. I stumbled upon the $89 IPEVO Ziggi USB Document Camera and have been evaluating it for a few months now as a tool for design collaboration.

I’ve been finding it easy to use for both shooting sketches for sharing in other apps, and for capturing and reviewing sketches with remote users using a screen-sharing tool like Skype. I now also believe it could be useful for other tasks including video capture for usability testing on mobile devices, and even presentations like one would do with an old school overhead projector.

The compact camera folds down and fits in a small bag. It comes with a posable arm to adjust the camera height, a rotatable camera head, an anti-glare shield, and the P2V software is used to display the video on your screen or to a projector when in fullscreen mode.

The camera includes buttons to adjust exposure, a focus button, and a switch to set autofocus on or off. These functions can also be controlled via the software interface. The software additionally provides a focussed mode for capture, a thumbnail view for review, and the fullscreen view.

Camera controls

This is a closeup of the camera with the foldable anti-glare shield which can be used when capturing back lit devices like a smartphone or tablet screen. If you were to record an iOS device screen, you would keep this attached.

Here’s a low-resolution video I took of me sketching that you may have seen in a presentation I gave. It’s pretty low quality because of the movement and video compression since I used it in a presentation.

The camera itself has a 2.0-megapixel CMOS sensor with auto-focus and is capable of 30 fps live video capture (at 640 x 480). Still shots can be taken up to 12.2” x 9.1” (310 x 230mm) and offer resolutions up to 1600px x 1200px.

You can use the camera as an input for third party software like Skype or Google Talk, although you’ll lose some capture capabilities. If you’re capturing a test session you’re most likely want to screen capture the session with another app like Silverback or Screenflow. I’m also using the new Evernote page capture feature a lot with the Moleskine, but could see this device being a better alternative at a desktop.

Overall, I’m really pleased to have this as one of the few tools in my design arsenal. There are few that stay, but this one is turning out to be as useful as I’d hope it to be with little fuss.


Whitelines Link

Everyone’s getting in on on the physical paper capturing game using the iPhone’s camera. Whitelines is one of my favorite sketch paper makers. They make great graph paper that reverses the grid using white lines over pale a gray paper. The result is that the grid it more subtle and less distracting

The Whitelines Link product is a free iPhone app that let’s you capture sketches made on their new Whitelines Link papers. Position the phone over your paper, the app recognizes and aligns with the squares in the corners, and automatically captures it. You can then save your picture to Dropbox or Evernote or share it via email. If you check a box in the bottom of the sheet, and set a preference on the app, it will send your sketch to your preferred sharing destination automatically. You can even route them to a folder in Dropbox and label in Evernote.

Whitelines sells notebooks with the new sheets, but you can also download sheets for free in A4 and A5 sizes. Find out more here.


Evernote Smart Notebook by Moleskine

I’ve tried a lot of tools for transferring sketches from analog sketchbook to digital. I was an early Pen-It user, have used page cutters with a scanner, and have lately just resorted to taking photos with my iPhone. The Evernote/Moleskine Smart Notebook looks like it might provide the right mix I’m looking for.

I've given up on the idea of converting paper sketches to vector drawings. What this seems to offer is the ability to use that dotted sheet tech to correctly line up your photos taken with Evernote app, and combines that with some neat stickers that will automatically route your sketches to tags and/or specific notebooks. I can use the pens I like, and just save my work without worrying about any serious technical communication between an input device besides my phone.

At this point all I'm interested in is capturing the sketches so I can be rid of the piles of paper sketchbooks at some point. I've gone that way with Kindle books, I want to go the full route with my sketchbooks as well. If it goes well enough, I'm ready to cough up the dollars for the yearly no-limit uploading.

Available for order here.


Contrast-A: Find Accessible Color Combinations

Contrast-A allows you to experiment with color combinations, examine them using accessibility guidelines and, create custom color palettes. The app checks color combinations for sufficient contrast and displays the results according to WCAG 2.0 (Luminance Ratio) as well as the results according to older accessibility guidelines, WCAG 1.0 (Difference in Brightness and Color).


Buxton Collection

Bill Buxton has been collecting input and interactive devices whose design struck him as interesting, useful, or important. In the process, he has assembled a great collection spanning over 30 years of the history of pen computing, pointing devices, touch technologies, as well as an illustration of the nature of how new technologies emerge.

The collection can be browsed in HTML or via the PivotViewer Silverlight interface. PivotViewer provides a richer experience with faceted filtering, search, and hypertext links for metadata. Each device includes Buxton's photos, notes, details about the device's release date, retail value, and name of the creator.

View the Buxton Collection.


Adobe Shadow Mobile Device Testing

Adobe Labs' Shadow is an application for Mac and Windows that allows you to preview and inspect your mobile website on iOS and Android devices.

After installing the software on your computer and any number of mobile devices, you can connect and pair them and all devices will be kept in sync with the web site you're previewing on your computer. This should help perform remote inspection and debugging so you can see HTML/CSS/JavaScript changes instantly on your devices.