Today’s Digital Menagerie

Today’s camera is a bit more convenient now that it has gone digital, but it definitely has not taken full advantage of its digital potential. Ideally after taking a picture it would be possible to transfer the picture to a cell phone to send to those who posed for it. Makes it a convenient time to make sure all the addresses are available, and prevents one from having an excuse for forgetting to send the picture out.

Also, for convenience in remembering where a particular landscape photo was taken having a GPS unit, or being able to connect to the GPS unit in my hand would be very helpful. Today it is hit or miss whether or not I will remember where a particular bit a fauna or rock formation existed months later when we finally get around to going through the pictures. While geo-tagging of images is becoming more common, it is still hit or miss. Besides, having the coordinates of the picture would make it much easier to find similar pictures taken by others in the area.

If my camera could wirelessly connect to my cell phone, then another one of my common mistakes likely would self-correct. The cell phone in my hand usually has the correct local time, whereas in traveling my camera does not. I don’t know how many times this has come up traveling across country, or even more annoyingly traveling across the globe. The camera remains set in the home time zone, or upon returning in some remote destination. Then again, having GPS connectivity would also make it likely that at least the GMT time would be recorded with the picture. There’s more than one way to solve this nuisance in as automatic a way as possible, yet none are currently present in my camera.

Another advantage of having a wireless connection on the camera would be the ability to print and download pictures. It would also enable other convenience features such as dumping the contents to a wireless hard disk to free up room when the memory card fills up. Whether the wireless is Bluetooth, WiFi, or Wireless USB is arbitrary, but the method needs to be standard so that I can connect to either my computer or cell phone with ease.

Continuing with the convenience trend recharging of the camera batteries can be a nuisance. For a typical day trip a single battery is insufficient. However, the camera ships with the capability of charging only one battery at a time. To be fair it does only ship with one battery, so the limitation isn’t immediately obvious. But since obtaining a second battery is essential, so should the ability to charge multiple batteries simultaneously. Ideally the battery charging should be wireless as well. Already various prototypes for wireless rechargers have been proposed, and it would be nice if this could carry over to the battery itself. Ideally recharging could be done by leaving the battery in the device, or by putting on the recharging mat.

Of course the wireless recharging is a theme that should be applied to any device that is rechargeable. And for devices where multiple batteries are generally a must such as video cameras, MP3 players, cameras, etc., then these batteries should all be able to charge simultaneously without special adapters just by placing them near the recharger. One recharger per manufacturer is definitely not ideal. When traveling I want to take a recharger with me that will work on recharging each and every rechargeable device and battery that I have brought along. An advantage for the manufacturers is with a standard recharging mechanism, they would no longer have to provide the transformer, but make the assumption that I already have my recharging mat in hand.

In the same vane, each and every device with internal memory whether fixed in place or removable should allow me to connect that device wirelessly to either my computer or cell phone. This way if one device runs low of free space, I can use the interface of the computer or cell phone to transfer data to another device with more free space. That is when the camera memory fills up, just pop open the cell phone which is pre-authorized to each of the devices, and start moving pictures from the camera to the MP3 player. After starting the transfer, just close the phone and the gadgets sitting in my bag will continue the transfer while I walk along.

To make the transfer scenario really convenient however the devices would need to have a lower power idle mode where they are checking for network requests. When the requests come in they power up for the data transfer, and power down again when done. And of course the file transfers would need to throttle themselves when I’m actually using the devices to take pictures or listen to music.

Also in the above scenarios the cell phone was chosen as the common user interface. This makes it easier for devices such as hard disks which do not normally have user interfaces to be brought into the mix. It also opens the door to make something like the iPod nano which has no graphical user interface accessible for remote manipulation when not connected to a computer. At this point cell phones are becoming more and more like portable computers, and they are something that you generally don’t leave home without anyways. So why not make the cell phone the user interface and communications hub for the rest of the gadget menagerie when away from home, and the computer the hub at home.

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One Comment on “Today’s Digital Menagerie”

  1. IvyMike Says:

    It’s not quite as convenient as the camera-to-cell-phone bridge you imagine, but they do have a wifi camera-to-computer SD card now: Eye-Fi.