iSight

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iSight

Apple iSight logo.png

iSight logo
Maker Apple Inc.
Type Motion picture camera
Image sensor type Digital CCD
Image sensor size 1/4-inch; 640×480 resolution
Recording medium Attached to computer via FireWire
Lens Glass, internal auto-focus lens system
Focus Automatic (50 mm – ∞)
Shutter speeds Continuous up to 30 frame/s
F-numbers 2.8

iSight is a webcam, both external and internal, developed and marketed by Apple Inc. The external iSight was sold retail for US$149, connected to a computer via a FireWire cable, and came with a set of mounts to place it atop any then-current Apple display, laptop computer, all-in-one desktop computer, or flat surface.

Apple introduced iSight at the 2003 Worldwide Developers Conference, intended to be used with iChat AV, Apple's video-conferencing client. iMovie (version 4 and later) could also be used to capture video from the device. In April 2005, Apple released a firmware update for the iSight to improve audio performance. As of December 16, 2006, the external iSight was no longer for sale in the Apple online store or in retail locations.

Meanwhile, Apple began using the term to refer to the camera built into Apple's iMac, MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro computers, and Cinema Display. In November 2010, Apple began calling them "FaceTime cameras". However, the term was not retired, as the third-generation iPad, the fifth-generation iPod Touch, the iPhone 5S, the iPhone 5C, iPhone 5, the iPhone 4S, and the iPhone 4 all incorporate an “iSight” rear camera in addition to a front-facing “FaceTime” or “FaceTime HD” camera.

Design[edit]

Apple iSight webcam

The external iSight's ¼-inch color CCD sensor has 640×480-pixel VGA resolution, with a custom-designed three-part F/2.8 lens with two aspherical elements. It features autoexposure, autofocusing from 50 mm to infinity, and video capture at 30 frames per second in 24-bit color with a variety of shutter speeds. However, the iSight has an image delay of approximately 120 ms.[citation needed]

The iSight incorporates internal microphones with dual-element noise suppression. The actual camera only takes up one-quarter of the unit; the remaining space is primarily occupied by its two microphones and mounting socket.[citation needed]

The iSight camera weighs 2.3 ounces (63.8 grams). It uses a single FireWire 400 (IEEE 1394a) cable (included) for audio, video, and power.

Apple iSight webcam

Four camera mounts, a plastic tube carrying case, and a FireWire camera mount adapter are also included. The user can select the mounting bracket most appropriate for their monitor or other mounting surface. It is fully compatible with its native Mac OS X, as well as partially compatible with the Microsoft Windows and Linux operating systems.

The iSight has a small green LED that illuminates when the camera is in use. It also has an iris that closes by twisting the front of the camera.

Built-in iSight[edit]

A built-in iSight on a White MacBook.

Although external and internal iSights have significant differences, Apple has used the "iSight" name to brand its built-in video camera found in their MacBook, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro notebook computers, iMac desktop computers produced since late 2005 and the LED Cinema Display. While the external iSight is similar to the built-in iSight, the built-in iSight uses an internal USB 2.0 interface and not the FireWire 400 (IEEE 1394a) interface used by the external iSight camera.[1] Further, the built-in iSight has a plastic lens, is fixed-focus, and uses a CMOS active pixel sensor, rather than the CCD used in the external iSight. With the LED-Backlit MacBook Pros, Apple has moved to using a sensor capable of 1280x1024 pixels. The built-in iSight can also be used in the Photo Booth application. The FaceTime cameras included with the 2011 versions of the MacBook Pro and iMac can output high-definition video. A panorama feature is also incorporated on the iPhone 4S and iPhone 5.[2]

iSight on Windows[edit]

External iSight[edit]

Windows XP, Windows 7, and Windows Vista will autodetect an external iSight camera as "1394 Desktop Video Camera", but no specific iSight driver exists for Windows.

Built-in iSight[edit]

Version 1.1 of Apple's Boot Camp added Microsoft Windows XP drivers for the built-in iSight. Version 1.2 implemented support for the built-in iSight in Windows Vista as well.

iSight on Linux[edit]

Linux kernel 3.0+ internally contains the driver for the iSight camera.[3]

For previous versions of the kernel, one has to manually take out the firmware from Apple's driver through a specific program. This is because the Apple driver cannot be deployed inside a Linux distribution, the cause being legal issues.[4]

Controversy[edit]

Apple's older external iSight cameras include lens covers to thwart surreptitious remote activation and viewing of the user by others, but the newer iSight relies on a green light to warn the user that the webcam has been activated.

In the 2010 Robbins v. Lower Merion School District "WebcamGate" case, plaintiffs charged two suburban Philadelphia high schools with secretly spying on students – by surreptitiously activating iSight webcams embedded in MacBook laptops issued to students – infringing on their privacy rights. The schools admitted to secretly snapping over 66,000 webshots and screenshots, including webcam shots of students in their bedrooms.[5][6] Similar cases have popped up in many schools as computers with webcams are integrated into education systems.[citation needed]

iSight vs. FaceTime[edit]

The June 2010 release of the iPhone 4, where Apple introduced the FaceTime communication platform, also involved them naming the integrated front-facing camera on the device to be called a "FaceTime Camera". Subsequent devices released, including later iOS products and all OS X devices following from the October 2010 release of the new MacBook Air (which like previous models, still feature a front-facing webcam integrated into their screens), also had the camera on them similarly named.

However, with the release of the third generation iPad in March 2012, while Apple continued to name the front facing camera as the "FaceTime Camera" on all iOS devices, they also re-introduced the name "iSight Camera" for the rear camera on all iDevices (retroactively, in the cases of the iPhone 4 & 4S) and on the 5th generation of iPod Touch, the new 5MP camera, introduced as an iSight camera.

In general usage, this rear camera is used to take higher resolution images, whereas the front facing camera is used for lower resolution face-to-face conversations with other users using the FaceTime communication platform.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Apple Developer Connection, "15-inch MacBook Pro Developer Note", Last updated: May 9, 2006.
  2. ^ "Apple iPhone 5 16GB". CaCELL. Retrieved April 8, 2013. 
  3. ^ Linux 3.0 - Linux Kernel Newbies
  4. ^ https://help.ubuntu.com/community/MactelSupportTeam/AppleiSight?action=show&redirect=AppleiSight
  5. ^ Doug Stanglin (February 18, 2010). "School district accused of spying on kids via laptop webcams". USA Today. Retrieved February 19, 2010. 
  6. ^ "Initial LANrev System Findings", LMSD Redacted Forensic Analysis, L-3 Services – prepared for Ballard Spahr (LMSD's counsel), May 2010. Retrieved August 15, 2010.

External links[edit]