Today’s Webcams Are Boring, so I Brought Back a Classic
That time I put a Raspberry Pi inside an Apple iSight because nobody stopped me
It’s a pandemic outside, many of us are working from home, and I found myself buying a webcam for the first time since the last century. I was not the only one.
The webcams out there today, they do the job. You just plug them in and get a pretty nice video feed. But they’re not exactly design icons. I thought that, maybe, we can do a little better.
Allow me to take you back to the year 2003. The iPod is still a thing. It’s playing “Hey Ya!” by OutKast. You can get an iBook in white plastic. Life is good. Apple is also selling a webcam. They call it the iSight, and it’s a beautiful piece of design and engineering. It even comes with a travel case and multiple different stands. You can find pictures of it in all its glory on Andrew Kim’s blog.
Apple hasn’t sold another iSight since 2006 and the downside of 17-year-old consumer electronics is that they are 17 years old. 640x480 is not a camera resolution anymore, it’s an app icon. Remember Firewire? I don’t.
In the year 2020, video is 4K — or at least HD. And if you’re not using some form of USB, what are you even doing? The iSight’s industrial design is beautiful, but its electronics are from another decade. This needed to be rectified.
As you may know, I have a history of stuffing electronics into beautiful household objects. I just can’t help it.
To get started, I ordered an original and unopened iSight camera off eBay. The box it came in was — of course — a perfect cube. Taking it apart was fairly straightforward. You can watch other people do it, if you like.
Why don’t we just put a whole computer running Linux in…