Dear OEMs: Please ‘Idiot-Proof’ Your Camera Placement
Real life teaches us a lot of neat things about people, and technology, and how we choose to use –or how we are capable of using– it. We can’t go on blaming manufacturers for some people’s incapabilities, but we can pretend to blame them for not “idiot-proofing” their products well enough!
Here’s the story:
Saturday night is for fun, and friends, and dance, and drinks, and all the cool stuff. Bars are packed with the young and beautiful who most likely carry (and even show off) their smartphones when Shazam-ing for songs, snapping pics, or checking in with their favorite social network. I thought it was a safe bet to hand over my Note II to someone close enough in the crowd and kindly ask that person to take a picture of me and part of my entourage that night. I couldn’t have been more wrong!
No ear or machine on this planet could have detected the shutter sound among all the decibels that pumped music till stomach-vibration occurred, but once I saw the flash go off, I yelled: “Thanks! One more, just for safety”, because I always want to play it safe (and I’ve seen most of the pictures taken under these circumstances).
After the second flash took care of my sight for five minutes I got my phone back and the person was already lost in the crowd. Checking eagerly with the gallery application I find the two most recent shots. Something was off and I initially blamed the temporary flash-induced blindness. But no! Perfect stills… of the person’s finger covering the lens! A partial print and one in its full glory. Horatio Cane would have been glad but I sure as hell wasn’t!
This begs the question: why aren’t phone cameras situated in places where it would be impossible to cover the lens? Like the center of the back, for instance! Chances of someone covering the lens would be much, much, lower!
Of course, the entire construction of the phone has to be rethought. Center is usually where the battery is but nonetheless it is possible to move it lower than the top edge. Props to Nokia for placing it as much towards the center as possible on the Lumia 920, and some of its other phones.
…and since we’re talking about the Lumia 920, I had a conversation with Michael the other day and we tossed ideas back and forth, like this one that generated my humble rant. Turns out that some people have adapted so well to having cameras on the top of the phone that they’re holding devices with one hand, covering most of the back. This can result in a couple of “finger-shots” in the early hours with the Lumia. …but we’re adapting and we’re definitely not morons!
Wouldn’t it be nice to standardize camera placement? Idiot-proofing at its best: “imaging system shall be placed on the back of the handheld device, one third from the top and centered relative to the edges”.
Bonus tip: couldn’t camera applications detect that something was off, while analyzing the input, and display a subtle message? “Remove your damn finger from the lens!” After all, these are smartphones!
I’m sure we could save a couple of memories from moments that will probably never come back!
Here’s hoping for a smarter smartphone user, or manufacturer, whichever happens first!