Research carried out by Microsoft, called “How and Why People Use Camera Phones” involved talking with ‘ordinary’ mobile phone users. The survey interviewed a number of people and looked at the photos they had stored on their camera phones, to examine what type of photos were taken, and why they were taken. This showed, possibly unsurprisingly, that most photos captured on a digital camera phone, were taken either for personal reflection or for sharing with others, either in the traditional way or for sending electronically to absent friends or relatives.
A small proportion of the photographs were taken for more practical purposes, and although touched upon in their report, it is this use that we will be focusing on here.
Because your mobile is always to hand it makes a great tool for instantly capturing things you need to remember when you are out and about. The additional advantage over a traditional pen and paper based approach to recording memos, is the level of detail that you can capture in a photograph.
For example, imagine you are out shopping for a new kitchen oven and are comparing different products. There can be a great deal of choice between gas, electric, induction, button less technology, 4 ring or 2 ring, inset or free standing, the criteria can go on and on. You will probably be able to immediately refine the list, excluding those that are too expensive, those that are too big to fit in your kitchen, and the ones that you just don’t like the look of. For the rest, most electrical appliance shops put summary information on the price tag, including model number, dimensions, price and warranty information. With a quick snap of your camera phone you can record all of this and an image of the product in question, for those you are interested in, before moving onto the next store. Back at home, you can price compare on the internet against the model numbers you have recorded and also verify that the product for offer on the internet looks the same as that in the shop. You can then make an informed decision on which appliances are best for your needs.
Similarly, your camera phone is a great tool for taking down telephone numbers or contractor details, when you are out and about. On the way back from looking at ovens, you spy a team of gardeners working in a nicely tended garden. You just happen to be looking for a garden maintenance firm to quote for some work, and a photograph of their liveried van gives you their name, website details and telephone number, allowing you to research the firm before booking an appointment with them.
Many people will carry their mobile with them to call for help in case of emergencies, but how many think of using the camera to record details of an accident? If you are involved in a motor accident, or are witness to one, it is very easy to get events confused, because of the stressful nature of the situation. Once it is clear that no one is injured, and you know emergency services have been alerted, a few photographs of the scene, before vehicles are moved, can be invaluable to you later when you have to recall exactly what was where and what damage was done to what vehicle.
By getting into the habit of using the camera on your mobile cell phone for practical purposes, you can make more use of a sophisticate piece of electronic equipment and make sure you always have a detailed recording device with you.