‘Phone as a Camera’ – Syndrome and Evolution

For a photography enthusiast like me, I have never liked the idea of shooting photographs with a phone. Though I sometimes take photos with my camera but despise it. It also happens when I don’t carry my heavy camera bag everywhere I go.

Today every phone – 99% are SMART phones – emphasize on their picture taking capabilities than anything else.

Digital industry is moving fast paced than ever had. Everything is becoming smaller these days. Gadgets are being built and re-purposed to accommodate several functionalities eliminating a need of carrying multiple products. Phone is not an exception. They are being packed with applications (restricted by the storage of course) that allows you to do so many things at your finger tips. I make the most of it. 

Every phone manufacturer is rushing to produce products that spell uniqueness and simplicity for the users. So it has spawned other OEMs who are now designing external camera lenses that you can attach to the existing lens on the phone. These lenses allow some flexibility of ZOOMing and thus captures the market of tech-savvy users who are looking for a bit extra from the phone camera. Selfie sticks are the hot sell I must say. This is another product that everyone has. It is an extension of your arm so you can take wider photos. But it comes with a price. Every one of us knows a critical drawback of selfie…..ACCIDENTs sometimes FATAL. There are numerous accidents all around the world that have occurred due to groups or individuals taking selfies on ledges or at vulnerable spots. As when taking a selfie you are aware of your surroundings to start with, then when one starts focusing on subjects and aligning oneself, one tends to get distracted or oblivious of their surroundings for few seconds until the CLICK happens.

Example of an external lens attached to a phone

Almost 2 decades ago a phone was just a block of electronics allowing one to place and receive a call, included were few games like Snake, Bricks etc. Later keeping the same functionalities they became a bit smaller and lighter when flip-phones were introduced my Motorola (don’t quote me on this as I am not aware who introduced it first, but Motorola is the one I know of hence gave an example). Then came color displays (I had one from Nokia in the year 2002), with an added functionality of ringtones. All such phones either didn’t have a camera utility or had a primitive lens capable of taking grainy pictures. In that era most had a point-and-shoot camera. Now it is forgotten, a history for many and non-existent for few.

Nevertheless, having a better camera on a phone have given the mass a possibility to shoot good photos without the need to purchase expensive cameras, hands down. No doubt about it. And probably phone manufacturers are happy as their models are being bought more due to camera capability than anything else. And that’s why they promote a phone for its camera capability than a good conversational functionality. Good for the industry.

Playing a devil’s advocate I imagine how would the phone manufacturers advertise their products. What could they emphasize on? I don’t fancy the idea of they stating that our models are good for making calls, screens that will not strain your eyes, enough storage for favorite apps etc. These functions have now become standards for all smartphones. The only changing facet is the camera lens. So that’s being pushed and promoted into the market. 

Having said that, for all the camera enthusiast, keen photographers a phone will always be a secondary medium, the primary being an actual camera, be it a point-and-shoot or a D/SLR. 

I would like to hear opinions and thoughts on this topic from fellow camera enthusiast and likes. Please use the following form.

HONK your way

HORN OK PLEASE” – Honking in India

I strongly believe it all started when they painted “HORN-OK-PLEASE” on the back of numerous trucks which travels anywhere within India. People took it literally and started HONKING, and since then it has become an important behavioral aspect. The real meaning of the text was to make riders aware – who ride behind a truck – that since being a big vehicle I can’t see you so please send me a signal by blaring your horn so I can give you a side to pass by. This reasoning fits, I suppose. Let me tell you one thing, the text “Horn-Ok-Please” though painted in sequence (per space on the back of the truck) doesn’t read that way. Instead, it says, Please horn so I know you are behind me, and as an acknowledgement, there’s this “OK” 😊

There are as many two-wheelers as there are cars today. Early days India had more two and three wheelers (Rikshaws) than cars. Due to the economic growth in multiple sectors, especially in Information Technology, people can afford cars and petrol (‘Gas’ in American parlance) too, I must say. The more vehicles on the road, more the noise. And they (let’s call them Honkies for this blog sake) want to make noise without needing a reason. Just because the horn button is conveniently placed on vehicles, the honkies decide to use it whenever they please. The button doesn’t need an extra power as it’s attached to a battery and the battery is fuelled by petrol, so if the battery is not dead, there’s nothing to lose.

I haven’t done any behavioral analysis of Honkies and I am no expert, so cannot say WHY they honk unnecessarily. Do honkies think that if they do so, they will irritate the front driver and somehow s/he will give a way? Or they take pride in doing so or seek the attention of others, either to themselves or to their costly bike or car? Now tell me, on a busy road where vehicles are either stuck or slow moving, what would honking constantly do to it? Every honkie knows that the traffic is not going anywhere, but still, they want to tweet. It’s magical or some law of physics probably. Constant honking would be creating an energy wave of some kind which will push everyone ahead…..!! Quite possible, ya.

No matter what they are driving, anything drivable entity on the road, the horn is as important and necessary as the gas pedal. If one leg is on it, so be a hand on the horn. We all know that the ubiquitous horn is an extension of people’s feelings, a substitute for anger and irritation. And that the western folks use it rarely only when in danger or angered over or irritated.

Let’s consider the data analysis from the financial capital and the busiest city, Mumbai. According to data (Source: Hindustan Times) from the Indian transport department, there are currently (as of Jan’2018) 3 million vehicles in Mumbai city. A Mumbai driver honks at least 6 times an hour and the city honks a whopping 18 million times an hour. This adds more than 5db to the noise already on the streets.

While I was researching on this topic, I found many articles, some scholarly, discussing this phenomenon. But all of them tend to justify why people honk, and these were obvious reasons like someone riding in the center of the street, a cow in between, a vehicle very close to collision etc. However, these are all true reasons, much of the honking happens when the traffic is snarled at a signal. As soon as the opposite traffic stops, people start to blare their horns in the hope that their signal would listen promptly and turn green. During my research, I came across an image that was apt. All it showed was how people treat signal lights.

If it’s Green, Go; if it’s Orange, Go Faster and if it’s Red, look around for a traffic cop and if not seen, keep driving.

I would urge manufacturers to bring in some Artificial Intelligence (AI) into these vehicles at least for horns. Two wheelers horns can be battery (special designed and a bit expensive than traditional – CR2032 or AAA or AA) operated which would drain if used constantly. This way honkies will use it sparsely and thus reduce noise on streets. Same thing for four wheelers. A separate battery connection and an indicator showing the battery life, so it can be replaced/recharged in time before it drains completely, which is when one has to open their windows and SHOUT….!!

Seems there is a strong movement in Mumbai to stop honking and some are responding to the need. It would certainly need more to eradicate this behavior.

Note: Readers, if you have any suggestions on HOW to educate these honkies, please share.

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