Monday, 19 May 2008

A spatially-aware digital camera?

Disclaimer: I am not a photographer.

I'm currently in Hong Kong at the moment (having resigned from my job), and in the 2 weeks that I have stayed here so far I have been taking tons and tons of photos on my cousin's digital camera. One of the things that I would like to do (being the spatially-aware person I am) is to be able to geo-tag all the photos taken, providing a spatial context (where) to all the photos taken.

Unfortunately, geotagging to my current limited knowledge is a totally manual process and given the amount of photos I've taken so far, would take about the rest of my stay here (another 4 weeks and a bit :-)). This quandary had sparked my thoughts into motion. What would make an ideal spatially-aware digital camera that would make all of this much easier?

In my opinion, a spatially-aware or spatially-enabled digital camera should have the following:

A built-in GPS receiver

This is a no-brainer. A camera with a built-in GPS receiver would allow you to instantly capture and associate global coordinates to any photo taken.

A compass

Having a built-in compass can provide directional context to any photos taken. For some of the photos I have taken, it was hard to tell or remember which direction I was facing. Attaching directional information into the photos can help in these situations.

An intuitive image meta-data management system

For all of these features to work efficiently, a clever metadata management system needs to be available that can store and manage the spatial metadata attached to the photos you have taken. It should either utilise any metadata facilities built into the image format the camera supports (does JPEG have such capabilities?), or some kind of platform-neutral metadata format (XML perhaps?). Integration with popular photo management applications (eg. Picasa) is a bonus.

I'm gradually learning that photo albums are basically visual stories. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to not only say when, but also where an event took place with absolute ease? (emphasis on ease)