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Wouldn’t it be cool if: Smart Camera Apps

In performing some (much overdue) spring cleaning on my blog, I came across this unpublished post from March of 2011. I still find the concepts to be compelling, even though the buzz around the Color app has certainly faded away. Enjoy.

There has been a lot of buzz lately around the Color app, a social photography platform. While the concept is cool, there are a lot of us who want to make pictures with cameras more sophisticated than our smartphone. This got me to thinking, what would happen if we could graft the DNA of a smartphone into our digital SLRs. What would the experience be like and how would it change the process of photography? I’ve constructed a series of hypothetical “apps” that could be built to enable a better, richer photography experience.

Even though these are really just thought experiments at this stage we’re already seeing the first tendrils of these types of applications in cameras like the Bluetooth enabled Olympus cameras with the PENPAL transmitter and application for live sharing to Twitter, Flickr and other social networking sites. So while the technology may be hypothetical, the platforms necessary to power these mashup applications are already being built.

Google Earth Photoshop
To me, the most intriguing opportunities to arise from this hybrid camera platform would be from having location, direction and altitude information. Combine this location and direction information with sophisticated image processing and you have the ability to:
1) Extract 3d spacial information from photos allowing for potent post-processing. Imagine taking a photo in Yosemite National Park and having your software know that you took a photo of Half Dome from the bridge across the Merced. The software can then remap the pixels in your image to the three-dimensional geo-spacial survey data on the landscape allowing you to change the camera perspective from 6 feet above the bridge to 600 feet above the Merced, eliminating the foreshortening in half dome and giving you an aerial view of this landmark without ever leaving the ground.

While you’re there, you might want to reshape the lighting to highlight the contours of the rock face. Instead of 2:30 in the afternoon, why not adjust the Time of Day slider to reset the light to 7:30 pm to feature the fading alpenglow on this majestic peak.

3D Photosynth Photoshop
Obviously, there are hundreds of thousands of photos taken every year of Half Dome, from perspectives all over the valley. With the 3D Photosynth Photoshop application, you can contribute your photos to create a pixel-perfect three dimensional map of Half Dome and Yosemite Valley. Photosynth, and the underlying research Photosynth is built upon is already being used to crowdsource 3d wireframes of major tourist areas in Europe from thousands of photos on Flickr.

3D Photosynth Photoshop would allow you to adjust your camera position, lens length and angle of view in your software from the comfort of home. When your photo’s field of view differs from what was originally captured through the lens, the additional detail is sampled from the thousands of other photos and sophisticated image corrections automatically match the tone, contrast and color of your original photo with the sampled information.

Using 3D Photosynth Photoshop, you can even travel the world and built a compelling portfolio of landscape images without ever leaving home!

Google PhotoGoggles
Keyword tagging and image retrieval is a chore and as a result, very few people use Keywords effectively in their digital asset management system. Using Google’s image recognition app Google Goggles plus the GPS information in your camera, your images will be completely geo-located including the latitude and longitude of your photos, nearest city or landmark, state country and additional geographic information to make finding your photos a breeze.

Google PhotoGoogles will even identify people within your photo and with the optional Release-generator module allow for quick registration of the model or property release information. In another country, no problem, the Google PhotoGoggles module uses Google’s Translation algorithms to translate the model release into any language on the planet from Azerbaijani to Zulu.

Basecamp’s ClickedIn
The social networking and project management app for professional photographers, ClickedIn allows you to coordinate your photo shoots with art directors, retouchers and designers remotely. Images from your shoot are fed into a virtual light table where the art director or photo editor can review, markup and approve images. After an image is approved, it is fed directly to the designer where it can be added to a page layout for print publication or a collection of images can be fed into an online or tablet addition as a photo gallery.
Your project can be published before you make it back to your studio!

Instagram PhotoSchool
Take your photography to the next level with real-time feedback, image sharing and photo critiques. As you shoot, your images are automatically uploaded into a gallery for peer review by other photographers in your social network (now Facebook). With a PhotoSchool Plus account, you can have your images critiqued by a professional while you’re still in the field to use their guidance to come home with the best shots of your life.
You’ll learn faster and progress farther using the Instagram PhotoSchool!


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