Your Digital SLR can finally talk to your smartphone

Do you consider yourself technologically savvy if you’re using your smartphone to make calls, check your email, surf the Web, manage your schedule, take photos, shoot video, listen to music, navigate via GPS, and update your Twitter and Facebook statuses? These days, this is just run of the mill stuff and not considered special. Below, you will see a different way of getting photos on to your smartphone.

Back in 2007, O’Reilly suggested that Web 2.0 was no longer limited to the PC platform, web applications were said to be above the level of a single device because even the simplest one involved a least two computers, the one hosting the web server and the one hosting the browser (O’Reilly, 2007). Only 5 years on, technology has already progressed so much further with more and more devices are connecting together. Why would anyone use a digital SLR camera these days when the camera on their smartphone makes it so easy to save and send images instantly. The only negative is the quality of the images……Now there is a new device that allows your camera to become wireless.

Photo from Khadijah’s Artworks

Overview

Hence the introduction of Eye-Fi, a device that attaches a smartphone to a digital SLR camera and “raises the camera’s IQ” (Holloway, 2012).

Basically, it is a memory card that is wireless. It fits into the camera just like a regular SDHC card. The built-in Wi-Fi transfers photos and videos to your iPhone, iPad, Android device or computer via a Web 2.0 app. It can automatically upload to 20 different web photo sites (like Flickr) as well as a computer on your home network or up to 32 other networks.

Eye-Fi 4GB Wi-Fi SDHC Memory Card – by Eye-Fi

Then the options are endless as to what apps that can be used with it. Picture sharing, geotagging photographs, vibration monitoring and sound recording are among them. Perhaps most useful to dedicated photographers are light meter and depth of field calculator apps.

The high-end card has “endless memory” whereby the card intelligently makes space once content is safely delivered (Eye-Fi, 2012). Therefore the perfect shot is never missed because the memory card is full.

So after the advertisement, I need to justify why I have chosen this card as a good demonstration of how this is software that uses more than one device. Simply, this device now enables a camera the integrate data across many devices including desktops, mobile devices, and Internet servers (Watson, 2012).

An everyday SDHC memory card + wireless functionality = Eye-Fi

Other similar Web 2.0 applications

Nikon has just released a wireless mobile adaptor (WU-1a) which enables simple sharing of photos captured with a digital-SLR camera with smart devices. This new device is an easy way to share high-resolution photos with other devices or people. Another nice feature is that it allows the camera’s live view display can be shown in the smart device screen for remote control over shooting, something the Eye-Fi card cannot do. Currently, this adaptor is compatible only with smart devices running the Android operating system (Nikon Corporation, 2012).

photo by Nikon Corporation

After a brief look around the internet, I cannot find any other companies that are offering this technology but please leave a comment if you know of any others.

Issues

In the Eye-Fi forums, users have complained about the battery life of their cameras decreasing rapidly in comparison to when they used the camera without the Eye-Fi card. The thoughts were whether the camera was constantly located within the same network area as the computer it was transferring to as it would be constantly trying to connect to download photos. The other thought was, users were leaving the camera on for much longer than required as it would download to computer than transfer to social media application. The camera could be switched off once the photos reached the computer.

Other difficulties are associated with setting up networks and transferring the images across automatically from the camera.

Legal Implications

“Hotspot access” is another feature, but I see this as a privacy issue. With Hotspot Access, you’ll be able to upload from tens of thousands of AT&T Wi-Fi hotspots across the US just as easily as at home. These Wi-Fi hotspots are public networks aren’t they? I am not a hacker but I would think it would be easy to steal these images while they are on the public network?

Future Directions

Although this card seems to have a couple of issues with camera battery life and firewalls, I think making digital SLR cameras wireless is definitely the way forward. For professional photographers how easy would it be to go travelling and take thousands of photos, login to Flickr and have all the RAW photos available for editing. This would be a fantastic improvement over today’s process.

The future maybe in the way the camera is built so instead of just the memory card being wireless, the camera could have an IP address that could be accessible on the internet at anytime, by multiple users. That would hopefully solve the battery issues as the camera itself would be built appropriately without installing a third-party device. It would also solve the network issues and become ubiquitous computing at its best (Watson, 2012).

References

Eye-Fi. (2012). Endless Memory.   Retrieved 25th April, 20121, from http://www.eye.fi/how-it-works/features/endless-memory

Holloway, J. (2012). Flash Dock attaches iPhone to DSLR, raises camera’s IQ. Digital Cameras  Retrieved 23rd April, 2012, from http://www.gizmag.com/flash-dock/22200/

Nikon Corporation. (2012). Nikon releases the Wireless Mobile Adapter WU-1a, which enables simple sharing of photos captured with a digital-SLR camera with smart devices. News 2012  Retrieved 23rd April, 2012, from http://www.nikon.com/news/2012/0419_wireless_mobile_adapter_02.htm

O’Reilly, T. (2007). What is Web 2.0: Design patterns and business models for the next generation of software.

Watson, J. (2012). Software above the level of a single device. On Web 2.0 Applications. Brisbane: Queensland University of Technology.

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12 thoughts on “Your Digital SLR can finally talk to your smartphone

  1. Nice post! I am an amateur photographer and using Nikon 😉 As you mentioned in your post, this awesome technology might potentially become a main feature in the future camera.

    Your thorough discussion about Eye-Fi and Nikon wireless mobile adaptor, made me curious about these new toys and tempted to try it. However, I am unsure whether I will use it. I mean, when I am taking pictures, usually it takes 2-3 trials and errors before I satisfy with the photo. If I use Eye-Fi or WU-1a which automatically upload to my Flickr account (which I set for public), I won’t have control to select photos that are eligible to be uploaded. In this way, my secret will be revealed and no body will use my service again 😀

    Bmulatiningsih
    http://bmulatiningsih347.wordpress.com

    • This process that you have suggested can be done by making small changes in the uploading. 1. There is an option to select the images that you would like uploaded. 2. I think there is also an ability to delete images on the camera before uploading.
      It has also got me thinking of the options in Flickr, to separate your account into two – one that only you can see, so you can edit images before allowing the public to see them….. Maybe you know more about this area than I do, any ideas?

  2. Nice. Being able to upload with via the wifi Eye-fi would great simplify the process greatly for me. I’d like to be able to send a photo over to my tablet, do a quick edit and upload to Twitter, FB, blog, etc. That would just be awesome — art on the go. Way above the level of a single device, no doubt.

    • Yeah, I agree. It is an awesome little tool that makes the whole process so simple. So often I have had photos sit on my camera for months as the effort to download them is too much!

  3. How does it work with the access to the internet and the payment for that? Don’t you need some kind of plan to get internet access? Other than that, this seems like a pretty fun and practical little gadget 🙂

    • It connects to a wifi network that has a computer, tablet or some other device that has access to the internet. From that device it then sends the photos onto an app like Flickr. So the cost to connect to the internet is from the plan on the computer or tablet. As it sits on that network it does not require an internet plan itself. I hope this makes sense.

      • Aha, yeah that makes sense, and might be the best way to do it, even though it will mean that you have to rely on having online connection on a device nearby, but for most users thats probably not a problem.
        What so you think about the use by the way? Do you think it will be mostly used as a way to share pics fast on social media, or do you think the “ever-lasting-memory” is the biggest sales point?

      • I think the card has huge advantages for professional photographers who can edit and publish photos instantaneously. For example, at a wedding the photographer can set up a projector screen that shows his Flickr site so all the guests can see the photos immediately.
        I think from you suggestions, it is the ability to download the photos easily that will be the biggest benefit for the user. Publishing on social media is an added benefit to that!

  4. Hey Nicole! Interesting read about the wifi-enabled memory card 🙂 I would love to have one for my digital camera. What is the price for 4GB? And do you know if it is available at Harvey Norman?

    • There are a couple of different options for the 4GB card – you can get one for around $69.00 or a video card for around $77.00. As far as I can see you cannot buy them at Harvey Norman, they seem to be only at more specialised photographic stores like discount digital photographics.

  5. Cool idea 🙂 Halfway through the top section I was thinking ‘I bet this thing drains battey life’ and then I got to your Issues setion haha 🙂

    Definitely a good example of software above the single device. Just to clarify do you need the application installed on a smartphone to manage the wifi card? Or once it is setup it can automatically upload to Flickr?

    • THe battery life is definetely an issue in this situation. And you are correct….It appears that you have to have the application on either your smartphone or your computer to first setup the process. When it is setup, apparently it transfers the photos automatically. Unfortunately, I haven’t used it myself so I can’t be sure…..

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