A selfie stick for your, er, backside



Okay, it’s for your butt.

Yeah, kids today… For some reason, they’re obsessed not only with “selfies” but with their rear ends (and those of others, judging by how a Kardashian photo recently “broke the Internet.”)

So, selfie sticks with which you hold a camera a yard away while aiming it at yourself are big. What’s the logical evolution of that trend? Right, not this thing — but here it is.

The Belfie is specifically designed to take “rearview” shots. Business Insider reports developer On.com polled more than 10,000 selfie fans, and found many wanted to “highlight their assets from behind, but had difficulty maneuvering this type of shot with a traditional selfie stick.”

If for some reason you actually want one, they’re $80 (!) here. (But seriously, this could be high-margin impulse buy for camera stores to stock.)

Skydio’s smarter quadcopters see where they are going — funded $3 million



Start-up Skydio is making flying cameras that are almost impossible to crash — and the proof of concept has won them $3 million seed funding.

“Drones are poised to have a transformative impact on how we see our world,” the new firm says. “They’ll enable us to film the best moments of our lives with professional quality cinematography — and they’ll also change the way businesses think about monitoring their operations and infrastructure. This grand vision is starting to come into focus, but existing products are blind to the world around them. As a consequence, drones must fly high above the nearest structures or receive the constant attention of an expert operator. “Flyaways” and crashes abound. These problems must be solved for the industry to move forward.”

Skydio says it will offer “safe and intuitive” drones “for a much broader audience and a much broader set of applications.” Their flying camera will be “aware of its surroundings” and so be “far easier to control, safer to operate, and more capable.”

How will it work? By using it’s camera not just to record images, but to ‘see’ where it’s at. “Almost all the information a drone needs to be good at its job can be found in onboard video data; the challenge is extracting that information and making it useful for the task at hand. That challenge, and the incredible capabilities that are unlocked, are our focus.”

Here’s a cool video demonstration.

And TechCrunch has more on the company here.


Swarm of “incredibly cheap” camera drones

apex flyfrog

apex flyfrog

“A swarm of incredibly cheap camera drones is buzzing your way,” reports Quartz from the Hong Kong Toy and Games Fair. “2015 will be the year of the super-cheap camera-equipped drone, capable of traveling up to several hundred meters and priced so low that consumers could potentially buy them for $100 or less.”

The report notes the Flyfrog quadcopter will be sold by manufacturer Apex Toys in Shenzhen to distributors for just $27 — and it can fly up to 50 meters, controlled by a phone, and take 10 minutes of video.

“This flood of inexpensive, camera-carrying drones is sure to be welcomed by tech enthusiasts who don’t want to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on a professional-grade aerial photography kit,” the report concludes.

The full story is here.


CNN gets FAA approval for UAV Research

mit drone light

mit drone lightThe Federal Aviation Administration is increasingly regulating the use of camera-equipped quadcopters — but news agency CNN reports it “has entered into a cooperative research and development agreement with the FAA to advance efforts to integrate unmanned aerial vehicles into newsgathering and reporting.”

The FAA will use data collected from this initiative to formulate a framework for various types of UAVs to be safely integrated into newsgathering operations, CNN adds.

“Our aim is to get beyond hobby-grade equipment and to establish what options are available and workable to produce high quality video journalism using various types of UAVs and camera setups,” CNN says. “Our hope is that these efforts contribute to the development of a vibrant ecosystem where operators of various types and sizes can safely operate in the US airspace.”


User-made video up 360 percent on Facebook

facebook logo

facebook logoPeople are posting 75% more videos to Facebook than they did a year ago, Advertising Age reports, and the number of videos in their feeds has grown 360 percent.

“In the past year Facebook has become widely considered YouTube’s biggest potential rival,” the report notes. “Not only are people watching a lot of video on Facebook, but they are uploading a lot of video.”

In the US, Facebook adds, people are posting 94 percent more videos to the social network.

“It seems that as Facebook transformed itself into a mobile-first company over the past few years, it is now being converted into a video-first property,” Ad Age concludes. It quotes FB CEO Mark Zuckerberg as saying that just as photos usurped text as the dominant content type shared on Facebook, in the future “a lot of the content that people share will be video.”

The full story is here.


Why store photos in the Cloud?

hans photo cloud

hans photo cloud

Sixteen percent of those surveyed report they store all their photos in the cloud.
Half the respondents store at least some photos in the cloud… which of course means that half do not store any there.
Researcher Hans Hartman at Suite 48 Analytics is offering a new white paper based on a study for which 1212 North Americans between the ages of 25-44 were surveyed.

“For many smartphone photographers, the cloud is becoming the most important photo storage location,” the report says. “General cloud storage or syncing services are increasingly adding features and interfaces targeting photo enthusiasts because their freemium business model – free starter packages plus tiered pricing based on storage volume – benefits from (typically large) photo and video file sizes. Since photos sell storage subscriptions, many cloud services have begun adding features like timeline, photo discovery based on metadata, visual browsing, and unified photo viewing independent of file or folder structure.”

Hartman adds that many cloud photo services now “leverage various photo metadata through user-friendly interfaces, e.g. by letting users rediscover photos that correspond with today’s date in previous years. Going forward, we expect them to also start leveraging image recognition technologies, which have made tremendous progress  in the last two years as deep-learning technologies are developed and marshaled to solve the image recognition needs of deep-pocket advertising and e-commerce vendors.”

In addition, Hartman believes that the number one factor that could drive further adoption of photo cloud storage services is for these services to more transparently address mobile photographers’ most pressing photo storage need: secure backup. “Our respondents were clear: backup is the most important reason why they use these services. Many are confused as to whether their photo cloud services offer secure backup, as well as whether they would provide full recovery of their original photo collections in the event their devices break down or are stolen. Some services need to better deliver the desired backup and restore features, others need to better explain how their features work.”

The Photos and the Cloud white paper is based on a study Suite 48 Analytics conducted for PhotoGurus and addresses the following questions:

•       Do mobile photographers store any of their photos in the cloud?
•       Why do they store photos in the cloud?
•       If they do store photos in the cloud, why not all their photos?
•       Which cloud service do they use most?
•       Why do some not store any photos in the cloud?
•       Are they concerned about not backing up all their photos in the cloud?

The free white paper can be downloaded at http://www.suite48a.com/cloud.


Instagram grows to 300 Million

Instagram icon

facebook and instagramFour-year-old online photo sharing service Instagram reports it now has more than 300 million members — up from 200 million just nine months ago.

Users have shared 30 billion photos, USA Today notes. Instagram was acquired by Facebook in 2012.

“What began as two friends with a dream has grown into a global community that shares more than 70 million photos and videos each day,” writes CEO Kevin Systrom on the company blog. “…As Instagram gets bigger, we’re focused on helping you discover photos and videos from people who you care about, whether it’s a friend or your favorite musician.”

The service also announced a new “verified badges” feature for celebrities, athletes and brands, “making it easier for you to connect with the authentic accounts you’re looking for.”


Photographers become self-publishers

photographers self publish

photographers self publish

Time Magazine looks at the business side of publishing a photography book — when the publisher is also the artist.

“An increasing number of photographers are bypassing traditional photo book publishers, setting up, instead, their own imprints,” the article says. “Progressively, photographers who choose to self-publish are taking it to the next level. They’re turning one-time hits into more permanent structures that release works by other artists. Many have chosen this avenue as a way to snub the major publishers who are increasingly asking their authors to bring not only a great body of work, but also a check.”

The full story is here.

Also: Time presents its picks for the best photography books of the year here.


50,000 body-worn cameras — White House proposes funding


axon_flex_hero_vertical_shotThe use of wearable cameras has been slowly accelerating in recent years, especially among police forces. You can now expect these tools to take off rapidly as the US government reacts to recent increased violence.

“Recent events in Ferguson, Missouri and around the country have highlighted the importance of strong, collaborative relationships between local police and the communities they protect,” the White House press office posted.

Amidst the proposals and task forces, the post says the President “proposes a three-year $263 million investment package that will increase use of body-worn cameras, expand training for law enforcement agencies (LEAs), add more resources for police department reform, and multiply the number of cities where DOJ facilitates community and local LEA engagement. As part of this initiative, a new Body Worn Camera Partnership Program would provide a 50 percent match to States/localities who purchase body worn cameras and requisite storage.  Overall, the proposed $75 million investment over three years could help purchase 50,000 body-worn cameras.”

(Pictured here: Taser’s Axon system first marketed in 2012.)


“Smartphone Mums” risk losing memories

nero Moms

nero Moms

In London, imaging software developer Nero says its research shows “44 percent of this first generation of ‘smartphone mums’ admit that they would lose all of their photos if their phone was lost or broken.”

The study found 92 percent of UK mothers use smartphones to photograph their children, and 49 percent believe social media pages are the safest place to store photos, the company adds.

One-fifth “complain they have lost a treasured digital photo.”

“We would urge parents not to play roulette with precious memories when backing up securely is such an easy and simple thing to do,” Nero says. “Children grow up so fast that losing even a small amount of images can cut out a large chunk of a child’s life. Backing up is simple and easy, so there really is no excuse to forget.” (Yes, they sell back-up utilities — but the general idea is true of all “mums,” and hey, many other young mothers too.)