BY: Sameer Grover, CEO and Founder, Crown-it
What would be one’s probable thought if the word ‘Camera’ was mentioned, 20 years ago? The best guesses would be – videos and pictures, old photographs, or a device we brought out of the cabinet only on ‘very special’ occasions. And what thoughts does the word ‘camera’ evoke now? What do you immediately think of when you want to capture a moment? You simply bring your phone out.
Phone cameras have redefined the word ‘memories’ in the present times. 20 or so years ago, the average man had a film-roll containing only 36 shots, and a long wait before these were developed at a photo-lab. However, phone cameras have now enabled us to capture many more memories with an easy access. Not just that, one can now instantaneously share these memories with people that matter to us – whether it’s via social networking sites like Facebook, or instant messaging services like Messenger, WhatsApp, WeChat, etc. In fact, it led to the making and the success of business based solely on it – Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat etc.
The introduction of the front camera brought a whole new angle to the way people connect with each other. Video chat has now become a part of our lives. You can be near your dear ones even if you’re on a different continent, or attend an important meeting without even physically being there. Moreover, the introduction of apps like SplitCam gave clicking pictures a whole new direction as one can now click a picture both with the front and the back camera, at the same time. Businesses are now using this technology to give their users an experience that’s larger than life itself.
Today, the real world has moved way beyond ‘selfies’ and Social Networking profile pictures. We are now in the midst of a technological extravaganza where something as simple as a phone camera is being used to drive, expedite, and leverage commerce like never before. Entrepreneurs and Top Officials no longer rely on Personal Meet-ups, Scanners and Printers etc. to sign important documents and contracts; a simple photograph of the document shared via instant message does the work.
In another remarkable move, IndusInd Bank recently introduced their very own ‘Video Branch’, wherein any of their customers can connect with the Branch Staff via a video call through their smartphones. Many E-commerce companies have now upped their game another level with a smart use of the phone camera. If you’re at a mall or an Outlet, all you need to do is click a picture of the dress that you like, and upload it. The E-commerce company will then send you suggestions on similar dresses that you can buy online.
Another great example of how a phone camera is bringing social revolution to the forefront is the app called ‘Be My Eyes’. What Be My Eyes does is connect visually impaired users to sighted users via video chat. This way, a sighted volunteer can help a visually impaired user with simple day to day tasks like walking on the footpath, buying groceries, or even reading a book. There are thousands of blind people and over 1, 00,000 sighted volunteers that are already using the app. In fact, in India, the traffic police now use the phone camera to click pictures of vehicles not following traffic rules. The challans (tickets) are then sent to the vehicle owner’s home address.
Today, apps like Google Glasses and Scan doc convert images of words into an editable document with the help of OCR. Now, you have apps that read the barcode that you scanned via your phone camera and give you all the information about that product. Apps like RedLaser even take you a step ahead – whenever you go shopping, even to a grocery store, it can tell you where you will find the same product at a lower price in your vicinity. This way, technology is helping consumers make smarter, more cost-effective, and informed choices, with the help of simple accesses. Apps like Yelp, with its monocle feature, let you find all places near you based on the services that you’re looking for. All you need to do is point your camera into the direction where you’re going, and all the available options will be listed on your screen. Apps like Evernote let you organize and manage yourself by keeping the scanned copies of all your important documents in one place. Apart from that, a new wave of apps like Shopmium, ibotta, and similar apps in India, let you send scanned copies of your grocery and restaurant & shopping bills, and avail deals, offers, and discounts of some kind or another.
These are only some of the ways phone camera has turned life around for consumers. Today, when everything is required to be extremely fast, from our internet to our food, we have very well established that great ideas are inexhaustible, reusable, all-encompassing, and when combined with technology, can change the face of our lives. Phone cameras happened for humanity to be just one of those resources that gave power and access for so many brilliant ideas to take the shape of reality.