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This ace video call hack will make you less awkward on Zoom

If, like many people, you've found yourself working from home over the last few months, you've probably experienced the soul-crushing awkwardness of forgetting to unmute. It's especially bad when you were simply trying to say "yes," "no," or offer an all-important "ha".

In an attempt to quell the awkwardness, a Netflix engineer has created a video lens which can detect gestures, and turn them into on-screen words and phrases. And best of all, they're all designed in delightfully comic book-style speech bubbles (check out our best web comics if you're looking for design inspiration). 

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All you have to do is make a simple gesture, such as wave, thumbs-up or finger-point, which will bring up the 'Hello', 'Yes' and 'Question' bubbles respectively. There's even a smile-detecting 'Ha ha', for when you're required to laugh at one of your boss's jokes.

The lens was designed by Cameron Hunter (opens in new tab), who built it using Snapchat's Lens Studio (opens in new tab). In subsequent tweets he reveals that it was initially only intended for his own use, but "it's really nice that people are so into the lens". Indeed, his initial video has gained over 600k views in two days.

Video call lens

No more unmuting just to say "Hi".  (Image credit: Cameron Hunter)

According to Mashable (opens in new tab), Hunter hopes to add more gestures such as 'time's up' and 'you're on mute'. "The middle finger is also a highly requested feature," he says, "but I'll just leave that one alone".

If you want to try out Hunter's lenses, all you have to do is install Snap Camera (opens in new tab), then add Hunter's Meeting Gestures (opens in new tab) lens. Snap Camera essentially creates a virtual webcam which can then be selected as a source in Zoom or Google Hangouts (you can find instructions for this on Snapchat's website (opens in new tab)). 

Not only are Hunter's lenses a brilliant tool in the battle against video call awkwardness, but we love their fun design. The different bold colours should serve a practical purpose too, making 'yes', 'no' and more easy to differentiate quickly. if you're looking to up your Zoom game even more, our guide to the best webcams is on hand to keep you looking crystal clear.

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Daniel Piper
Daniel Piper

Daniel Piper is Creative Bloq’s Senior News Editor. As the brand’s Apple authority, he covers all things Mac, iPhone, iPad and the rest. He also reports on the worlds of design, branding and tech. Daniel joined Future in 2020 (an eventful year, to say the least) after working in copywriting and digital marketing with brands including ITV, NBC, Channel 4 and more. Outside of Future, Daniel is a global poetry slam champion and has performed at festivals including Latitude, Bestival and more. He is the author of Arbitrary and Unnecessary: The Selected Works of Daniel Piper (Selected by Daniel Piper).