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. [ad#Assense-Wide-C]

  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.

110 thoughts on “18 Uses for your Phone Camera as a tool”

  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.

    1. 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.

    1. 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.

  2. 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!!!!

  3. 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.


  4. 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

    1. 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. :)

  5. 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…

  6. 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.

  7. 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!

  8. 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

  9. 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.

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

      1. 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.

  10. 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 :)

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

    Remembering parking locations

  12. 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!

  13. 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.

  14. Just want to say what a great blog you got here!
    I’ve been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

    Thumbs up, and keep it going!


  15. I highly recommend this camera to any serious photographer looking for a small, high quality alternative to a big DSLR with way better quality than even the best small sensor camera.

  16. yea.thanx for sharing this blog post with me.i just found it buy google couse i was searching for
    more info about this.Ang BANG! i found your blog that was so use full for me.
    feel free to drop me email i will send small donation.
    regards francpol

    1. Thanks Uzair, I am an Android person, really hope to see these apps on the Android someday :)
      I am sure people will find it useful :)

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