I had been doing some research recently around the idea of using an iPad as a document camera on a Zoom or Google Meet call. It can be a great option for showing books, manipulatives, worksheets, or other learning materials during a video call with students. Zoom has built-in functionality to help facilitate that process. Google Meet does not, but you can make it work if you join the call for a second time on your iPad. However, if you want an easy way to show a mobile device on Zoom or Google Meet call, you should take a look at OBS.Ninja.
What is OBS.Ninja?
I came across OBS.Ninja in a Verge article I was reading on how to show your iPhone or iPad on a Zoom call. The article was written to document a new app called Overviewer, but in the comments section I found a reference to a website called OBS.Ninja. The commenter claimed that you didn’t need an app like Overviewer because OBS.Ninja worked just as well and with less hassle. This had me intrigued, so I did a little digging.
OBS stands for Open Broadcaster Software, which is part of a larger ecosystem of apps that allow you to broadcast live video streams. OBS.Ninja lets you bring video from your smartphone, computer, or friends directly into an OBS video stream. It is 100% free with no downloads, no personal data collection, and no sign-in. It uses Peer-to-Peer forwarding technology that offers privacy and ultra-low latency.
How to Use OBS.Ninja with Zoom or Meet
This is all well and good, but how exactly does this work for your next video call? Well, with OBS.Ninja you can use your iPad, or your smartphone, as a document camera in Zoom, Teams or Google Meet. Here’s how:
- Open a browser on your mobile device and navigate to obs.ninja
- Tap, Add Your Camera to OBS
- Grant permission for it to use your microphone and camera
- Choose the video source you want to use, (e.g. rear camera)
- Tap Start, and then take a note of the URL at the top of your screen
- Next, go to your laptop, navigate to the URL, and click the play button to view the video feed from your mobile device
Once connected, you can share this browser tab in a Zoom, Teams or Meet call using the screen sharing option. Anything you place under your mobile device will then be displayed in full-screen for your students. The video feed is clear and has almost no lag at all due to the ultra-low latency you get from that peer to peer connection.
You will notice when you first connect the video feed there will be some audio feedback between the devices, but you can mute the microphone and volume on both devices via the on-screen controls in OBS.Ninja. You won’t need the ability to broadcast audio with this tool because you are already doing that on your video conferencing app. All the students need is the ability to view the live video feed and you can do that by screen sharing the tab that has the video on it.
Is OBS.Ninja Secure?
The short answer is yes. This was one of the first things I thought about as the gears in my brain began to grind about how teachers could use this in the classroom. I emailed Steve Seguin, the developer of OBS.Ninja, about this very notion. He said that OBS.Ninja was designed with security and privacy in mind. The peer-to-peer configuration means that no one in the middle can really spy on the connection; the video stream is encrypted with DTLS encryption. There is no data collection, no sign-ins, and no tracking.
If you have a document camera, or a system that already works for you to share a mobile device and you are happy with that, you should probably just use that. However, if you want to try something different, OBS.Ninja could be a worthy option. It is fast, easy to use, and lets you take advantage of just about any mobile device that you have in your possession. If you decide to try it, I would love to hear how you get on with it.