educational

The Phone Cam

Stephen Yagielowicz
While privacy advocates are increasingly alarmed by the pervasiveness of camera equipped cell phones, users and service providers are all adopting the technology, with some putting it to good and innovative uses, such as automated photo-blogs that display cell phone images uploaded by submitters. Let's take a closer look...

My Original Idea
At last year's (2004) Vegas Internext, I saw folks everywhere snapping pics with camera phones. Pics that have become ever higher in quality. I didn't have a camera phone then, and would typically take dozens of images with my digital camera, then spend hours sorting through, cropping, resizing and uploading them to a hand-coded template for display here at XBiz.

Envious with the seeming ease at which the phone-shooters took their snapshots, and the timeliness of publication that a direct-to-web script would provide, I started thinking about how cool it would be to walk the show floor, snapping pics left and right, captioning them, and then sending them via my cell phone to a script which would automagically process them, and add them to XBiz' show coverage, live and in realtime.

This cycle of continuous updating would not only make for sticky content, but other staffers, and even our general readership, could be allowed access to the system, to ensure a wide variety of popular imagery, even if it wasn't of "professional" quality.

I thought of other applications for this process, but as the scripting and other requirements were beyond my own limited technical prowess to implement, I brought the idea to the powers that be, but nothing had come of it to date, and it wasn't mentioned again. Still, I really liked the idea...

A Live Execution
Fast forward to this morning and my first press release of the day, announcing www.thephonecam.com. According to the website, "It's a mobile weblog. A moblog. A blog for people with camera phones. A photoblog. You take photos, with your camera phone and then email or MMS them to us, direct from the phone, wherever you are. The picture file is then put online in your very own gallery – instantly sharing your life! When you upload a picture you can add a title (as the email or MMS subject) which will be displayed as the title of the post, and therefore subject for user comments."

Gosh, I'm glad somebody finally did this – and if it was done previously, I haven't seen it...

"Now on the back end of straight blogs Thephoencam.com has opened its doors to a world waiting to send pics of their most interesting daily moments," stated the company's press release.

To use ThePhoneCam.com, users simply create a free account, then details of how to configure their phone to send a pic through MMS or phone-based email will be emailed to them. Each user can create a public profile enabling other users to contact them, and are provided with their own webpage which contains these contact details and the user's most recent photo entries.

Pictures posted on the website receive comments from other blog users, opening the possibility of interaction between picture posters and viewers, although blatant marketing would likely be suppressed. I bring this up because web girls could use a service like this to snare new customers by posting pictures of themselves, as well as their URLs, and engaging the posters of favorable comments with lines such as "You should see my high-res, uncensored pics and videos!"

Other features of this 'Nuke powered site include a personal gallery, notification of user comments, syndicated picture posting, and more.

While I haven't seen other examples of folks actually doing this, I'm certain that the practice will become ever more popular. It's a good and obvious idea come to fruition that will be driven by the increasing rollout of domestic MMS services; but a concept that could easily be plagued by the same legal problems that put traditional adult picture post sites out of favor. But for now, all I can say is "Bravo!"

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