18 Uses for your Phone Camera as a tool

When the first camera phones were introduced we all said, “Why the heck would I need a camera phone?”. It will never replace my camera because the quality and clarity is really bad with the camera phones. More so now, that a lot of people are looking and slowly upgrading to SLR’s. So where is the need for the camera of the camera phone ? Well in the new technology world, the camera becomes a very handy tool for managing your life. In fact the camera serve a lot of functions making your life all the more easy. I have listed out a few below but then definitely there will be more uses, these few are enough to convince you take your camera phone around everywhere if you don’t already do so. Your camera may be a toy, but there’s no reason it can’t also be a tool.

  1. Manage Business Cards: Scanr.com makes small utilities for mobiles that take advantage of the phone camera for OCR or Optical Character Recognition. This means that you can take a picture of a business card and use scanr.com to recognize the text so you can import them into your contact management software. You don’t really need to stack needless business cards anymore.
  2. Land marking : On the road to an appointment, you pass a brand new office park. Ah! New prospects! Don’t we love those. Take a picture of the directory listing and call the companies located here when you get back to the office. This can be used to snap off pictures of new bars / restaurants at your leisure. This is a great tool to help give people directions through landmarks as well, so now not only are they looking for a place, but they know what it looks like.  If there is a store that says coming soon and you want to remember to go there, take a picture of it to remember.
  3. Remember Parking Locations : One of the pastimes in Dubai everyone will say is mall walking, and getting there and parking your car in the huge multi level, multi zone parking usually leads to people forgetting where they have parked their cars. It leads to more frustration and waste of time. A quick snap of the location would definitely guide you back. This is even applicable at airports or anywhere else where you have large parking locations.
  4. Brainstorming: You just had a terrific brainstorm session with your prospect or your technical expert. The white-board is filled with pictures, bullet points, arrows and diagrams. But how do you capture these thoughts, short of writing everything down? And even when written down, it might not be the exact interpretation of the diagrams. A  picture can save all the trouble, if you get a picture of the whiteboard it might save hours of back and forth emails on the reconfirmation and clarification. This is something we use extensively. This method allows you to “save” a set of ideas, wipe the board clean, then see if you can come up with something better. It removes the fear of losing a past idea, and allows better ones to surface. We store all the images in a shared location on the network which makes it easy for everyone to access.
  5. Use it instead of a printer: If you need to take directions with you, but don’t have a printer, take a picture of the computer screen instead. You can zoom in quite a lot, and will be able to read the directions on the camera’s monitor. Also works for confirmation numbers, email addresses and incriminating online photos of friends and acquaintances.
  6. Remember small details: It has happened to everyone, we want to buy a cartridge for a printer or something like that but when you get to the store you get asked what is the model name for your brand of printer, and you don’t know the exact model number. Well you can snap a picture of the replacement device you need and when you are done with it, you can throw away the device (e.g. the Cartridge)
  7. Mark your property: People usually never return back Mobiles or cameras that they find. However, in case someone that wants to actually is looking for information, you need to be able to give him the information. But How ? Well you can take a picture of your name and address and lock it on your memory card. That way at least you give the information to someone who might be interested in it.
  8. Shopping Lists: Before heading out to buy ingredients for a particular recipe, especially for Indian food, take a picture of the ingredient list. At the store of course you will be able to zoom into the image and check out what you need in terms of you specialist shopping list.  You could also check out your notes on your hand written list as well to ensure that all items are purchased.
  9. Way Finding : Retracing your steps might be difficult if you are at a unknown part of the city, or are venturing out for camping etc. By taking pictures of each different path you take with landmarks and tree signs etc. It will be quite simple to walk / drive back. It is an interesting application, however you will need to get used to taking pictures in both directions so that you know the route on the way back.
  10. In Case of Emergency : Most mobiles allow you to store images in ascending order, have the first picture the one where you have information regarding your blood group etc. Lock the picture so that it does not get completely deleted. However, also make sure that the information is enough for someone to help you and not as much as someone to misuse it in case you lose your phone.
  11. Use it as a mirror : Check your teeth for spinach when you don’t have a mirror Or see how you look in really dark sunglasses. It’s pretty straight forward, click your own picture  either with the forward or the main camera of the camera phone.
  12. Make a Wish list: Ever wonder what is the name of that album at your friends place that you wanted to download .. err buy, or get books that are something that you want to buy for yourself. You can snap a picture of the details and keep it as your wish list of Christmas purchases or good deal buys.
  13. While trying to ‘Fix’ things : Take pictures of each step when you take something apart, so you’ll know how to put it back together later on. That way you won’t end up with those four screws and one unidentified twiddly bit that always seem to be left over after “fixing” something.
  14. Flash light : The flash for most cameras can be used as a focusing flashlight when you are in the dark. Or, if you drop your keys behind the sofa, use the monitor on your camera to help you see into places you can’t quite reach.
  15. Record Phone Numbers : Chances are it’s easier to find your camera in a bag full of stuff than it is to find a blank piece of paper and a pen that actually works. Save yourself some time and snap a picture of that crucial phone number when you’re out apartment hunting, or when you see a flyer you don’t want to forget. (Ps : If you are clever enough you will dial the number directly into the phone lol)
  16. License Plates: Did you ever get the feeling that you weren’t going to make it out of a parking lot unscathed? If a certain combination of carseat+closeparking+exhaust modification sets off your “door ding” alarm, give yourself peace of mind by snapping a shot of your new neighbors. Or maybe you can be a detective and snap off plates of guys driving crazy on the road to blog about, and do a naming and shaming thing.
  17. QR Codes : QR Codes are interesting bar code like codes where you can read about a lot of information, like URL etc. for the mobile phones. QR codes are increasingly used in shopping as well, you can snap a picture of the QR code and make use of the information that it will provide. Check out more about it in an earlier post here.
  18. Augmented Reality: If you click on the tag on the right, you will find many posts on this blog explaining the possibilities. I am sure that a gadget with a camera will become a quintessential tool of tomorrow. Check out the posts here.

Think I have left some out, please add them below as comments.

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  1. can’t say a camera phone doesn’t take good pics. i have some mecro shots done with Sony Ericssons in my blog. Eventhough not of slr quality i think they have the quality to compete digital cameras.

    the tips on uses of cam phones you gave here are amazing and really nice.

      • misterjester
      • March 30th, 2010

      Thank you … And really good shots .. I think I am going to try some shots with my Nokia and Sony … lets see 😉

      Thanks and keep visiting.

  2. awsome post and great photos too!

      • misterjester
      • March 30th, 2010

      Thank you Brad … Keep visiting 🙂

    • HakimTheGrey
    • March 30th, 2010

    if u’re good in photoshop, u can turn a Phone-Cam photo into SLR-Cam like photo. hahaha.
    i’ve done it. the photos just marvelous

      • misterjester
      • March 30th, 2010

      I guess .. however slr pics the clarity and the range that they provide in terms of flexibility is great.

      Anyway this I guess is about the other uses of the camera phone.

  3. Good idea. Still I think I need a better camera for my photography purpose.

      • misterjester
      • March 31st, 2010

      Definately .. however the phone camera can be used for all these utilities 😉

  4. Great ideas! I just recently been using my cell camera to record locations and memories.

      • misterjester
      • March 30th, 2010

      Let us know if you think of more .. 🙂

      • As an artist I like taking pictures of random strangers and drawing them. But that might be considered creepy. O_o

    • philomena pereira
    • March 30th, 2010

    Wow, very nice article, great tips for camera mobile phone.

      • misterjester
      • March 30th, 2010

      Thank you for the kind words, please keep visiting 🙂

  5. awsome post and great photos too!Thank you Brad Keep visiting

      • misterjester
      • March 31st, 2010

      Thanks for the comment 🙂

    • trololo
    • March 31st, 2010

    Wow, this post assumes people can’t think for themselves.

      • misterjester
      • March 31st, 2010

      Not really … Its more of a beginners guide.

  6. I’m only have 20/400 vision without my glasses so it is always frustration for me to see what I would look like in a new pair – – now I can have the store clerk take a picture of me in the suggestions and the new pair and get a better idea what it will really look like. THANK YOU ! I hadn’t thought about it till you suggested using it as a Mirror!!!!

    • kitty0727
    • March 31st, 2010

    and i’ll give you a unconventional, if i can express myself like that: to cheat on your tests :p

      • misterjester
      • March 31st, 2010

      lol .. well possibly … you have to be very careful though

  7. I used to use my K810i to see parts of the engine bay I couldn’t reach or see. Like an inspection mirror but better. I could use it to see into cylinders. It was great.

      • misterjester
      • March 31st, 2010

      Awesome … that is really one nice addition to the list above 😉

    • kiwiie
    • March 31st, 2010

    um ya cool site ive already used things for phone like tht

      • misterjester
      • March 31st, 2010

      Cool … what was that like ?

  8. Great tips! I’ve used my camera phone for all but a few of them. You didn’t mention it (that I recall) but I use the video camera for similar reasons.

    #13 has saved me more than once.

    When doing process reviews or cycle time studies, nothing speaks better than a picture or video.

    Thanks!

      • misterjester
      • March 31st, 2010

      True, I think it is turning into an important tool ..

  9. Great post. Love it and love the tips. Thank you for sharing.

      • misterjester
      • March 31st, 2010

      Your welcome, and keep dropping by 😉

    • taybangger
    • March 31st, 2010

    personally, ithinkn camera phones are good. especially those intimate momments with ur special someone:) jk butin other words, everyone enjoys it. nd technology is getting stronger

      • misterjester
      • March 31st, 2010

      lol , true … thanks for the visit .. keep dropping by 😉

  10. ok I like it

      • misterjester
      • March 31st, 2010

      Thanks ..

  11. These are all really cool ideas! thanks for sharing

      • misterjester
      • March 31st, 2010

      Thanks for the kind words

  12. Awesome ideas. thanks for sharing such a detailed post. Nice article Melvin.

      • misterjester
      • March 31st, 2010

      Thanks Mohan for the comments, keep dropping by 😉

    • chunter
    • March 31st, 2010

    Related to #13, a recording studio engineer uses his to photograph analog knob settings.

    • Juvy
    • March 31st, 2010

    I like your blog. The lay-out looks smart and sophisticated. The write-ups are really inquisitive.

      • misterjester
      • March 31st, 2010

      Thank you for the kind words … You can subscribe to the posts by email if you would like. I would really suggesting bookmarking so you can visit it again. 🙂

  13. Amazing post.. in fact, i am already using it for some of the points mentioned above (e.g. 4,5,6, and 13).. the rest are also really useful.. will surely try them out… really an innovative list…

      • misterjester
      • March 31st, 2010

      Thanks Ronak, Am glad to be of help 🙂

  14. nice camera boys!

      • misterjester
      • March 31st, 2010

      Thanks dude !

  15. Your list of uses is brilliant! I especially like the use of the camera to check for spinach between teeth.
    I used to carry a disposable camera in my car to use in case of accidents – but now always get out of the car with the camera in my hand. Pure luck I guess but nobody has driven into me since I hit on this new plan.
    About 18 months ago a jewellery shop in a nearby town was robbed about 4.30 on a winter afternoon. No member of the public intervened, but several people took photos with their mobile phone camera, so the police quickly caught the robbers.

      • misterjester
      • March 31st, 2010

      Awesome .. so well you are a pro with this 🙂

  16. Great ideas man. I have taken a pic of this post in my mobile, so that i will not miss any of your idea 🙂

      • misterjester
      • March 31st, 2010

      Good one Mate 😉 lol

    • darahbiroe
    • March 31st, 2010

    nice camera phone

      • misterjester
      • March 31st, 2010

      Thanks mate 🙂

  17. nice info … 😀

      • misterjester
      • March 31st, 2010

      Thanks dude

    • Samir
    • March 31st, 2010

    I have been using my Nokia 5800 as a camera since about 2 months and its giving pretty good results. 3.2 Megapixels. Do share any tips on that if you have!

    • Semboeng
    • March 31st, 2010

    Nice topic, I used my phone for flashlight when blackout on my area. And for the cam I use it to help me remember when I put something.
    I’ll waiting for the next post

      • misterjester
      • March 31st, 2010

      Thanks for the comment .. keep visiting 🙂

  18. Good article, I use Mobile for photographing the beautiful scenery that I have found

    • MJ
    • March 31st, 2010

    Thanks for the #7 tip! Before I use a smartphone, I add a contact called ICE (In Case of Emergency) after reading the fwd email. Now that i hv a smartphone, it already has a Owner info but I think #7 is useful for those who are using phones that do not have Owner info.

      • misterjester
      • March 31st, 2010

      Yes you are right, however like I was saying, the possibility of getting back a lost phone usually are very remote 😦

        • MJ
        • April 7th, 2010

        Well, at least it’s a shot that whoever found the handphone is an honest person 🙂

        Agree with Sarah March 31st, 2010 – it’s helpful to take pics as evidence on the spot.

        • misterjester
        • April 7th, 2010

        lol … very true … 🙂

    • Jumpin ‘The Indian Ocean’
    • March 31st, 2010

    Awesome uses of phone……..Keep writing

      • misterjester
      • March 31st, 2010

      Thank you for the encouragement 🙂 Keep visiting

    • iniyaal
    • March 31st, 2010

    wow… this is a subject I have never thought much about. Neither have I used the camera in my phone. I guess after reading your post, I am all ready to go out and explore with my phone camera 🙂

      • misterjester
      • March 31st, 2010

      Glad to be of service 🙂 Please let us know your experience 🙂

    • Zippy
    • March 31st, 2010
    • Jason
    • March 31st, 2010

    Excellent ideas

      • misterjester
      • March 31st, 2010

      Thank you mate !

  19. Haha, I do 16 all the time

      • misterjester
      • March 31st, 2010

      LOl .. nice

  20. love the parking spot one–so simple-pissed I didnt think of it:)

      • misterjester
      • March 31st, 2010

      Glad to be of help 🙂

    • johny
    • March 31st, 2010

    hey dude. guess there are so many apps i didn’t know of. thanks for the info.

      • misterjester
      • March 31st, 2010

      Glad to be of service

    • Julian Gan
    • March 31st, 2010

    That’s quite a long list to remember. If I had to choose my top 3, it would be:

    Remembering parking locations
    Landmarking
    Brainstorming

      • misterjester
      • March 31st, 2010

      Good to know .. seems like everyone has their favorite 3

    • Leorah
    • March 31st, 2010

    New user of a cell phone here. Thanks for these great, useful ideas. This is the positive kind of thing I love about good blogs and the internet in general. Now I have to figure out how to organize all these photos on my phone, though. I don’t know where to start. Otherwise, I can just see myself having to scroll through lots of photos, and all the time it would take, just to get to the one I need at a specific time. I’m also wondering: can one “send” these photos through the cell phone to a person one is talking with, or someone on their phone’s listing of contacts? My phone is a simple BQ50 Motorola provided by ATT.

    One other thing I wanted to mention is that, despite the tracking divise in all newer phones now that threaten to compromise our privacy in very serious ways, the way cell phones were used, along with their cameras, by Aid workers in Haiti during the first few weeks of the earthquake crisis saved many lives, allowing people to locate and bring critically needed assistance to points they had come upon in especially dire need, when no other sort of ability to do this sort of thing existed at all. Before that, some might remember how people in Iran used cell phones – I think perhaps along with Tweet – in order to mobilize demonstrations and maintain contact with key organizers for what all needed to do to shift location as needed and even stay aware of anyone needing help when under attack by police.

    Not to get off topic, but if you think about the cell phone, including the camera aspect of them, all of this has many ramifications for use in all kinds of future scenarios. I only wish I could find – we all could find – more readily available, and even portable solar chargers for cell phones for emergencies or times and places where electric power is not available.

    Thanks again for your info and blog. I’m a new fan, for sure!

    • Sarah
    • March 31st, 2010

    Kind of related to one you mentioned–if you’re in a car accident, take pictures of EVERYTHING. This includes both cars, driver, passengers, intersections, backgrounds, etc., in case they are needed for trial.

      • misterjester
      • March 31st, 2010

      Thank you Sarah ..

  21. Your post is really nice and the uses discussed are quite innovative and interesting great work.

      • misterjester
      • April 1st, 2010

      Thank you for the comment 🙂

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