March 9, 2021

PC TECH THERAPY

PC Tech Therapy Blog by Daniyal Computer

Overviewer is a new app that turns an iPhone into a document camera for Zoom and virtual learning

2 min read


As students and teachers continue to work from home amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Overviewer has hit the scene as a new iOS app for turning your iPhone into a document camera on Zoom and other video conferencing applications. The app is meant to be a replacement or substitute for traditional document cameras, which are common in education but costly and cumbersome to use.

Document cameras are traditionally top-down cameras that allow teachers to show worksheets and other documents to a classroom of teachers. With many schools operating virtually, however, this has become a challenging problem to solve.

Overviewer comes from developer Charlie Chapman, who is also behind the popular Dark Noise ambient sound app. Charlie shared some interesting details on the inspiration behind the app in a blog post today:

My wife is a Kindergarten teacher and when COVID hit she had to figure out how to teach a bunch of 5 and 6 year olds how to draw letters over Zoom. Initially she made her own document camera using her iPhone and the default camera app. Zoom has a wonderful feature where you can share your iPhone’s screen by plugging into your laptop with a lightning cable or even wirelessly over AirPlay but when you open the camera app there are two issues.

1. There’s a bunch of buttons and chrome around camera view so it looks clunky

2. The camera app doesn’t actually rotate when you turn it sideways (just some of the labels) so you can only share your phone in portrait mode which means huge black bars on each side of the zoom call and a tiny video stream of what you want to share.

Overviewer solves these issues by giving iPhone users the ability to have their iPhone act as a document camera for video conferencing apps such as Zoom. For example, Overviewer can be used in Zoom when your iPhone is connected to your computer via Lightning or even via AirPlay.

Then, Overviewer will send to Zoom exactly what the iPhone’s camera sees, including support for property rotating into landscape. This allows teachers to use their iPhone like a document camera, and easily show students as they work on math problems, drawing, and other tasks.

Here’s a video showing the app in use:

Overviewer is a completely free application on the App Store. If you’re a teacher or know someone who is, this is an excellent application that is worth trying out.

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