Zoobe Cam uses the principles of augmented reality to allow its users to overlay a cute, cartoonish 3D character atop a static photographic backdrop, and then record their voice for up to 30 seconds to make it look as if the character is speaking a message.
The app is designed to be very simple to use. Beginning by picking one of the currently-available characters, many of which are actually the same characters in different items of clothing, the player is then prompted to take a photograph. The character is shown in static form on the screen along with a perspective guide, allowing the user to take a photograph at an appropriate angle to make it look as if the character is really standing there.
After taking the photograph, the user is prompted to choose an “emotion” for the character. This affects the animation of the character as it enters, delivers its speech and exits, though there are seemingly several variations on each emotion to help prevent each from becoming stale and predictable — a welcome feature, since at present there are a large number of possibilities that are listed in the app’s menus but marked as “coming soon.” There is no apparent means of previewing what the various animations look like, however, so the user will have to rely on the one-word descriptions to ensure they pick something “appropriate” — or at least amusing.
Following the emotion-picking, users then have the opportunity to record a voice message of up to 30 seconds in length. The recording is pitch-shifted when it is applied to the final video, giving it a more silly, cartoonish feel.
Once the audio has been recorded, the app takes a moment to process the video and present the user with a preview. It may then be rendered in high quality and shared via email or SMS message — both of which share a link to the Zoobe website rather than attaching the full video — or posted on Facebook and/or YouTube. Email and SMS messages include location data, informing the recipient of the area where the video was posted rather than a specific address. Facebook functionality optionally allows a check-in to a nearby Facebook Place, and uses iOS 6’s built-in social connectivity rather than the external Facebook app. There is no apparent means of posting the video directly to Twitter from within the app, which is surprising, but there is nothing stopping the user from copying the link from the email or SMS options and posting it themselves, though this is a somewhat clunky method.
Zoobe Cam is a fun little app for sending short video messages via various means, with a great deal of potential to expand in the future. In the next few updates, it would be a good idea for the team to add additional share destinations — particularly Twitter — and also to incorporate more characters and animations. There is also the potential for monetization here — it would make a lot of sense for the app to charge for “premium” characters and animations, or perhaps the ability to post longer videos in higher quality.
For now, Zoobe Cam is little more than a curio, but some users will doubtless find it entertaining for a few messages at least. It remains to be seen if it has any potential for long-term success, but for now it’s worth a quick look at least.
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