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Dell wireless webcam prototype uses magnets to stick to the screen


Ahead of CES 2022, Dell previews a range of concept products as it normally does around this time each year. Previously, the company teased us with a Switch-like PC game console and a pair of dual-screen PCs and foldable PCs. This time around, Dell is showing off some prototypes of “smooth working experiences” called Concept Flow, Concept Stanza and Concept Pari. I checked it out at a recent demo in New York (while adhering to COVID-19 protocols), and was surprised at how polished it was.

Of the three, Barry is my favourite. It’s a wireless camera prototype that can be magnetically attached to a compatible monitor so you can position it at eye level while zooming in on your peers. Not only does this help maintain a more natural look while speaking, but it also allows you to keep your notes or texts behind the camera in a sort of teleprompter setting. Magnets won’t work with any standard monitor, though; You will need to use a magnet built into it as well.

I appreciate the elegance of Dell’s approach. The webcam is located in a cradle above the screen, and you can remove it when you want a different angle. When the webcam is docked, it charges wirelessly (and the light is supposed to glow to indicate it’s recovering, although this didn’t happen during the demo). You can also flip the camera to face the back of the dock when you want some privacy, so if anyone is spying on you, they’ll only see the black cover.

Gallery: First Look at Dell Concept Pari | 4 photos


During my short time with the prototype, I was easily able to grab the webcam and attach it to the screen. The magnets were strong enough to keep the camera in place and prevent it from slipping, but not so strong that I had to struggle to remove it. I particularly liked the stand Dell made for the Pari, which turns it into an overhead camera for top-to-bottom shots. It was convenient to take the camera out of the monitor and stick it to the magnetic disk on the stand, which looked like a thin, modern light. The version I taped for the demo felt a bit flimsy and I wish the dial could be rotated on a hinge to provide more cornering flexibility, but since that’s just a concept, I’ll withhold my complaint for now.

Although Pari is a prototype at the moment, Dell has some specs to share. The device weighs about 30 grams and this frequency has a built-in microphone. It streams 1080p video over WiFi and has a light above the lens in the front to indicate the camera is level, so you can easily ensure the scene is straight. The stand uses USB-C for charging as well. Since this isn’t something she’s currently ready to sell, she doesn’t have details about battery life, let alone a possible price.

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Dell’s other two concepts were around multi-device environments. Flow, for example, uses a dock to connect all the devices in your home office, such as a monitor, keyboard, mouse, and charger. Then, it lets your laptop connect wirelessly while it’s charging, too. If you take your laptop out of Bluetooth range, the external monitor locks up and reconnects when you return to your computer. According to Dell, Flow is the result of combining “hardware, industry-standard wireless charging technology, intelligent software applications, and Wi-Fi 6E docking technology to create a unique, seamless experience.”

Finally, the Stanza centers around an 11-inch “companion device” which is essentially a thin, lightweight tablet without ports. Dell said it “intentionally chose not to include cameras or speakers, for a distraction-free experience.” You can write on it with a stylus and double click to convert your doodles into digital text. As with many other note-taking apps, you can also draw a line between words to delete them. If you draw a Venn diagram, the Dell system can also transform imperfect circuits with squiggly lines into flawless fields. The tablet can also act as an additional screen on which you can extend or mirror whatever is on the laptop screen.

A table-like Dell Concept Stanza tablet with a stylus magnetically attached to the top edge.  A larger screen corner also appears on the table.

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Again, since these are all just concepts, Dell doesn’t have pricing or availability information to share, but it’s possible we could see aspects of these designs appear in future products. In addition, yesterday the company showcased another concept called Luna, which is a way to make computers more sustainable by making it easier to replace their parts. Dell is clearly exploring how to make products that are in line with industry trends (such as a hybrid workforce and sustainability), and we hope to see some of the advantages of these products in their actual products soon.

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