"We are going to change the way people use the webcam," Razer's Jun Shen Chia told me. I have to admit, it's not the sexiest pitch.
The Razer Stargazer is an upcoming $199 Windows 10 webcam from Razer, and it does many things better than its competition.
"This webcam sets a new benchmark for frame rate capture in streaming: 720p at 60 frames per second as opposed to the 30 frames per second found in traditional webcams," the press release states. "The Razer Stargazer is also up to the benchmark for video conferencing, capturing hi-definition 1080p video at 30 frames per second."
That's already nice, and it's clearly aiming the product at streamers, but it's by no means the end of the interesting features. As Chia walked me through all the things the camera could do I found myself realizing how static webcams have remained for the past few years.
It's also very clear that the Stargazer is aimed squarely at the gaming market.
The Stargazer allows a video image of the streamer to be placed over games without any additional hardware. "Physical green screen setups are cumbersome and costly, not everyone has access to them. This is all being achieved in the camera," I was told.
I stood in front of the camera and see a live video of myself superimposed over the game, without any special lighting or equipment outside of the Stargazer.
"The webcam’s Intel RealSense technology enables the camera to intelligently sense depth to separate foreground from background," the promotional materials state. "This feature works with popular broadcasting software like OBS, XSplit and Razer Cortex."
The hardware uses depth-sensing to pick up the streamer from the background, and the effect is pretty cool; I moved my hand closer to the screen to try to fool it and it kept a lock on my image while cutting out my background, although there was a slight bit of bleed around the edges of my body.
It worked very well, even in the low light of Razer's suite. The Stargazer removes the need to set up a dedicated room or even a large space within a room for streaming. The camera also recognizes gestures, and allows the user to set up macros so tht if you show the camera two fingers, you can make your favorite game launch. A wave to the left can launch Dota 2. A wave to the right and Skype pops up.
"We're not going to tell people what they can do or not do with the gestures, we're going to give them the library and let them set them up for themselves," Chia explained. You can launch or manipulate your programs; Chia whipped through a variety of gestures very quickly, and the system was able to keep up with his fast movements. The hope is to allow the user to create their own custom gestures as well as provide a pre-existing line of gestures that can be mapped to any macro as well.
"The potential is limitless," I was told. While the software wasn't ready for demo yet, as the hardware is aimed at a second quarter release in this year, I was also told you'll be able to 3D scan objects or even use the camera with Razer's OSVR platform.
The gesture recognition is interesting, but the high framerate streaming and simple-to-use background removal for game streaming may make this a must-have accessory for space-limited YouTube personalities.