Tuesday, February 23, 2010


The Internet camera?

You know what I would like? An Internet camera. It would be just like the digital camera I have today: it would take pictures, compress them into JPEG files, and store them on an SD card in the camera. Of course, it would also have a GPS receiver, and it would include the GPS information in the file’s metadata, so the photos would automatically be geotagged. Nothing we aren’t already doing.

The difference, though, is that it would also have WiFi and 3G capabilities (and maybe Bluetooth as well). Using that, it would connect to the Internet (perhaps through your mobile phone, with Bluetooth). It would have software that knows how to interface with popular photo-sharing sites — Picasa, Flickr, Facebook — with an easy way to create extensions to support others.

What would happen is that after a new photo is compressed and stored, an elf software in the camera would, if configured by the user to do so, upload the picture to the user’s chosen photo-sharing site. The user would, of course, have full control over this: which site to use, the login credentials used, the album/group/set it’s put into, the privacy settings for new photos. It would happen in the background, not affecting the use of the camera (maybe with a few-minute delay to give me a chance to decide to delete a bad shot first). When there’s no Internet connection available, it would re-try a little later.

We can already email photos — or post them to sites — from our mobile phones, of course. But we have to do that manually, one at a time, and the photos from most phones suck are less than perfect. Having this happen automatically, in the background, and on a real camera would have a lot of benefits. Perhaps there might be an option for me to trigger the upload, photo by photo. If it were a quick one or two button process, that’d be OK.

There are issues, of course. For one, it’d be wisest to have the photos that are uploaded be private by default. That means that when you get a real winner that you immediately want to share with the world (or just your world of friends), you’d still have to manually change the privacy for that photo.

Sending large image files up to the Internet all the time would also eat battery power, and that’s a significant issue. As it is, I can go wild taking pictures all day on one set of batteries. I might need three or four sets, or even more, with this feature.

Is there already a camera that does this? A search of Amazon doesn’t find any. Cockamamie idea, maybe? The battery-life problem would be a killer?


pheede said...

Not quite what you're looking for - e.g. only WiFi - but getting pretty close: http://www.eye.fi/

Barry Leiba said...

That's an interesting variant, putting the WiFi onto the SD card. Hm.

Laurie said...

You were right the first time. Phone photos suck. I have so many photos on my camera, but it is such a pain to download them and configure them that they just sit there on the card in my camera or in a folder on my computer for months. I definitely need an elf.

The Ridger, FCD said...

I would not want that camera.

I would not want to have to go to the Internet to manage the hundreds of photos I can take on a trip for the first level of passing/deleting, let alone all the cropping, etc. I would not want my camera connected to the Internet and burning up the battery (w/o wifi a Kindle battery lasts for more than a week; with it, about 3 hours). I would not want to have to be able to get on the Internet to work with my pictures, or download them to my computer first.

Plus, I can't conceive of how I'd make all those decisions on my camera without making it too cumbersome - how much menu navigation or setup would it require? Now, I just use a simple ftp program.

I actually don't find the process of hooking up the cable and letting the wizard move the photos to the laptop to be at all burdensome. It runs in the background, and takes me only a few clicks.

Call me Paul said...

There would also be a cost factor involved in the camera connecting to the internet.

Barry Leiba said...

Ridger: Of course, different needs for different people (to avoid using a hackneyed '60s cliché). I wouldn't actually want it on all the time. But there are times when I very much do want it.

When I'm out taking 500 photos a day, yeah, clearly not. But when I want to take two or three pics, it'd be nice. It would also be great for situations where I want to go out taking some pictures, and have someone back home processing them. Good, perhaps, for news photographers.

Paul: No cost (other than battery life) for WiFi. And for 3G, no extra cost if I have an all-you-can-eat data plan, as is common in the U.S.

The Ridger, FCD said...

There'd probably be a storage cost, too.

HRH said...

I actually could have used such camera in my recent trip to Russia. I took so many pictures, that literally, I had to download them into a Netbook that I was carrying in my backpack, twice a day, just to free up the RAM on the camera, and that was a hassle. Your suggested internet camera would have been an asset in that trip. As far as the battery, I wonder if there are any solutions offered by the solar technology, something similar to the ones used in the pocket calculators, only with more power and juice. I am not very familiar with what’s available.

To add to the spec for this Pseudo camera, I like to see an additional “upload” option, aside from the one you have mentioned, and that’s to upload the photos to my computer at home or some other remote location, this way, if I am on a long distance trip taking large volume of photos, like the one I mentioned, then upon my return, I would have a chance to do all the first level passing/deleting, and necessary cropping, before uploading them onto the Internet.

HRH said...

The google Picasa, allows to email pictures to the web album, this is especially useful from the mobile device, to steam and caption photos on-the-go, not exactly the Internet Camera you wish but a step in that direction.