Case Study – Auto Tracking Camera Systems at Case Western Reserve University

In this case study, you can review a behind the scenes look at some of the educational and instructional technology used by Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School of Management. Case Western Reserve University is a top-ranked private research university located in Cleveland, Ohio. Just take a look at the beautiful architecture designed by Frank Gehry in the iconic Peter B. Lewis Building. The school’s forward-thinking programs include state of art facilities equipped with the latest education technology where the school has innovated a lecture capture and online learning system that is sure to amaze. The technology in use includes the new HuddleCamHD Simpltrack 2 AutoTracking cameras used to automate camera operation for lecture capture, the Echo 360 video management system and the modern Canvas learning management platform.


With over 11,000 students interacting with more than 3,500 faculty members, a key piece of student learning is the online learning management system. The system has been designed to connect students with a world of online learning tools while maintaining an intuitive hassle-free teacher experience. The campus features a vibrant community of modern educators who are using the Canvas learning management system to manage to populate their online resources with video recordings that feature high definition video recordings with automatically controlled robotic HuddleCamHD cameras.

Instructional Technology Being Used

Auto Tracking Camera in Classroom

SimplTrack in classroom

The technology team at the Weatherhead School of Management has streamlined the process of capturing high definition video recordings of classroom presentations so that teachers only had to focus on making a great presentation. In order to do this, the team schedules the Echo360 video management platform to automatically record each class during the semester. Because many classrooms are equipped with a HuddleCamHD Auto-Tracking Camera the recorded videos automatically follow each teacher and remained zoom into the whiteboard spaces where they are teaching. Students and teachers have noticed a significant increase in quality with the auto-tracking cameras viruses the manned cameras operated by student workers. Because the IT team had to budget for a payroll of student camera operators, the SimplTrack2 cameras paid for themselves in the first year of operation.

Audio Visual Setup

Today a single IT team member can manage multiple classrooms and remotely view each classroom as needed. The presentation lectern installed by the Dobil Labratories Inc, provides teachers with access to HD document cameras, an HDMI computer input, and even live annotation provided by the Epiphan Lecture Capture. During each lecture capture recording the Echo 360 recording system will capture a high definition video feed from the auto-tracking camera and an HD video source from the Crestron Matrix installed in the lectern rack system.

The Echo360 capture systems will pair the Simpltrack2 HD SDI video signal and with the teacher’s video presentation for students to review after class. This provides teachers an intuitive video production workflow allowing them to create content without even thinking about the technology involved. After each Echo360 recording is made, it is automatically made available on-demand for teachers to include in their Canvas online classroom curriculum. The AutoTracking cameras are now made available for teachers whenever required without the need for manual camera operators.

For years the University had to rely on their busy IT team or hired student camera operators in order to capture moving teachers and classroom whiteboards via video. With the HuddleCamHD Simpltrack2 automating camera controls the faculty has found that video quality has improved and operating costs have been reduced.

Video Conferencing and Lecture Capture

Video Conferencing and Lecture Capture

Video Conferencing and Lecture Capture

The Weatherhead School of Management regularly includes busy working professionals working in executive MBA programs. Providing on-demand video recordings allows these students to review course work on their own time. MBA program members find the on-demand video content particularly useful. This flipped classroom style of blended learning is now a proven standard for improving student learning across the educational landscape. The upgrade to High Definition has increased students ability to clearly read teachers handwriting whiteboards with the optical zoom provided by the Simpltrack2. Using the SimplTrack2 management software, the University is able to tune the cameras to make sure the top and bottom of each classroom whiteboard is always in view as the cameras automatically follow teachers around the room.

The executive MBA program even uses the auto-tracking cameras with Zoom video conferencing for remote training and distance learning. In these cases, the HuddleCamHD Simpltrack2 can be used to record HD video via SDI to Echo360 and the USB 3.0 video outputs can be used with a laptop running the Zoom software at the same time.

Summary

Most classrooms inside the beautiful Peter B Lewis building feature a wall-mounted Simpltrack2 camera which can be remotely managed over the local area network. Using the Simpltrack2 control software the University is able to optimize the cameras tracking capabilities using an advanced combination of motion and facial tracking. With the Simpltrack2s audio line in, input allows the IT team to monitor lecture captures in real-time with live audio and video.

Case Study – Auto Tracking Camera for Lecture Capture

Distance Learning and Lecture Capture

Distance Learning and Lecture Capture

The College of Education & Communications at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania uses the HuddleCamHD SimplTrack as part of an advanced lecture capture audiovisual system. The University is using Zoom Video Conferencing software to connect their classrooms to the world allowing professors the ability to bring in remote guests and classroom participants. The room has multiple cameras available as video sources in a Zoom call and the main camera is the HuddleCamHD SimplTrack. The SimplTrack automatically follows the professor at the front of the room eliminating the need for a camera operator.

“The Zoom room functions flawlessly, the professor doesn’t have to do anything. All they have to do is fire up the computer, log-in, open up a Zoom session, and choose which camera to use” – Chris Barber, AV System Specialist for the College of Education & Communications at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania

  • Engaging Presentations: The Simpltrack makes lecture capture and distance learning more engaging by following the professor at the front of the room.
  • Zoom Video Conferencing: Connecting everything to Zoom Video Conferencing makes life easier for IUP. They use cloud-based recording for easy lecture distribution.
  • Additional Equipment: Some of the additional equipment used in this room includes PTZOptics Video Conferencing Cameras and Phoenix Audio Spiders (explained in more detail below). Also included in the system is an Inogenie Share 2. This device is able to mix together multiple video signals into a single USB 3.0 connection available as a webcam in Zoom. The professors have a simple touch button system they can use to display picture in picture, side by side and full-screen views of each camera.

“We can control the style the professor wants, whether they want the tracking camera only, whether they want the typical Zoom camera, or the both of them. Pictures side by side, big and small. So, it’s a really flexible system” – Chris Barber, AV System Specialist for the College of Education & Communications at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania

One side of the room is equipped with a SimplTrack camera to track the presenter. The other side has a 12X-SDI PTZOptics camera which uses a USB 3.0 capture card to connect to Zoom. This way the professor and the audience are captured for the video conference. Distributed throughout the room are white ceiling mounted Phoenix Audio Spiders. These speakerphones are used as both microphones and speakers in the room. Zoom connects to these audio devices using a USB 2.0 cable.

Latest Educational Topics

HuddleCamHD provides affordable solutions that are quite popular in the educational market. From the HuddleCam 3X which starts at just $399 to the HuddleCam 30X which starts at $2,399 HuddleCamHD has solutions for small classrooms to large auditoriums. Focusing on USB connectivity HuddleCamHD is a go-to resource for setting up online meeting spaces that work with everything from Skype for Business to GoToMeeting and WebEX.

HuddleCam’s latest release of the HuddlePod Air and HuddlePod Air BIG Audio allow educational spaces to add wireless USB audio support for small to medium sized classrooms without the hassle of installing messy cables. The HuddlePod Air BIG Audio allows classrooms with existing amplifiers and ceiling speakers to incorporate those systems into their online meetings completely wirelessly.

Educational Case Study

The Problem: Acadia University was looking for a way to connect multiple classrooms and campus’s together using Zoom.US. Zoom.US was catching on so quickly with both faculty and staff they Acadia needed to find a way to provide High Quality USB video conferencing equipment between classrooms. Without a budget to install video conferencing equipment in every room. They decided to build (2) Mobile video conferencing carts. One Dual Display and one Single Display video conferencing cart model.
The Solution: Knowing Zoom.US will handle both single and dual display installations Acadia started with a super fast Mac Mini for the brains of the operation or “Soft Codec”. They selected VFI’s MC-1000 video conferencing cart made with stainless steel durable material and features two easy to use handles which enhance mobility. For the camera they chose the HuddleCamHD 10X for Optical Zoom, Presets, and 1080p video quality. The microphone solution chosen was Phoenix Audio Quattro 3. For a complete list of components see below:

Complete Part List

Acadia University Case Study - Single Display

Acadia University Case Study – Single Display


Single display cart

Computer: Mac Mini
Webcam: Huddlecam 10x
Conference phone: 2 Phoenix Quattro 3 MT303 (with daisy chain kit)
Display: NEC E554 – 55″ LED-backlit LCD flat panel display
USB Extension: Tripp Lite USB 3 active extension repeater cable (for conference phone)

Dual display cart

Acadia University Case Study - Dual Displays

Acadia University Case Study – Dual Displays

Computer: Mac Mini
Webcam: Huddlecam 10x
Conference phone: 2 Phoenix Quattro 3 MT303 (with daisy chain kit)
Displays: NEC E554 – 55″ LED-backlit LCD flat panel display
USB Extension: Tripp Lite USB 3 active extension repeater cable (for conference phone)

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