A product called Wristcam adds cameras to the Apple Watch so you can take pictures, video and now, live video chat right from your wrist.
The idea of a camera for the Apple Watch makes a lot of sense, especially if you leave your phone behind to take runs, walks or hikes with just your watch.
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“I think it’s somewhere between Dick Tracey and Inspector Gadget,” said Matt Frischer, co-founder of Wristcam. His team has been working on the wristband for a few years, consistently making it better with software updates.
The Wristcam is a $300 strap for the Apple Watch that contains two cameras, microphones, and a battery. It attaches to the Apple Watch like any other strap and communicates wirelessly with your phone and watch via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
The setup and pairing process was quite easy, and the Wristcam is water resistant. It takes photos and HD video. More on the quality in a bit.
“We wanted to be able to have something that was always on you so if that moment appeared, you’re able to capture it instantaneously,” said Frischer.
I wore the Wristcam for a few days and captured photos and videos at home and at the beach. The quality of indoor photos and videos is not as good as outdoor photos and videos, where there is plenty of light.
The results might not be frame worthy, but they’re impressive considering they are captured from your wrist.
You can activate the camera easily by using the special Wristcam Apple Watch face, which includes a special complication that brings you to capture mode with a tap.
From here, you can swipe to toggle between capturing photos or videos. Another tap of the screen activates the opposite camera, so you can easily switch between front facing shots or standard captures.
You can turn the digital crown to toggle aspect ratios; 1:1, 4:3 and 16:9 are supported for video and photos.
There is an LED light to let others know the camera is active.
“Privacy is really important, this is not meant to be creepy, this is meant to notify others when you’re capturing,” said Frischer.
Wristcam’s latest software update lets you video chat.
It feels like FaceTime, but it uses Wristcam’s proprietary software. You can video chat from watch to watch or watch to phone if the other user has the app installed.
“The next best thing to being in the same room with somebody is being on a video sync with each other,” said Frischer.
The video chat feature still feels a bit experimental. Although the video was much clearer than I expected, the connection was choppy at times and struggled to stay connected. Wristcam blamed it on new software and a poor cellular signal, so your results may vary.
Overall, the Wristcam is a novel way to stay connected and adds a much-needed feature to the Apple Watch, especially if you like to be completely free of your phone. It is still a bit bulky for my taste and you need to charge the battery on the wristband separately, so it’s still a few steps away from being a perfect solution.
However, it’s easy to see that cameras are a natural evolution of the Apple Watch.
“It’s lived in our imagination since we were kids and bridging that vision to reality has been amazing,” concluded Frischer.
Next up, Wristcam plans to launch a “protect” feature that captures live video and sends footage to emergency contacts if you feel unsafe.