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OMG Life Autographer Quick Review

August 2013 | By Andy Westlake


Quick review based on a production OMG Life Autographer

On the whole, we know what cameras are supposed to look like. There are all sorts of variations in design and implementation, of course, but in essence we expect a body shape that's designed to be used hand-held, with a lens at the front, a large screen for viewing on the back, and a shutter button on top. It's really not often that anyone tries to do something substantially different with the basic concept. But this is exactly what a UK company called OMG Life has done with its device called the Autographer - billed as the 'world's first intelligent wearable camera'. How could we not be intrigued?

The Autographer is basically a small black box, about half the size of a shirt-pocket compact camera, that's designed to be worn on a neckstrap or clipped to your clothing. It has a custom-designed semi-fisheye lens with a 136° ultra-wideangle view, a 5MP sensor, and has built-in GPS and Bluetooth. But what is really interesting (and unique) is that it uses five sensors to decide automatically when to take a picture - an accelerometer to determine whether it's moving, a colour sensor, a magnetometer (i.e. compass), a thermometer, and a PIR proximity sensor. No pressing of a shutter button is required. After capture the images can be used as single frames, or compiled into stop-motion movies.

This may all sound like hocus-pocus, but OMG Life is a spin-off from image capture specialists Oxford Metrics Group, so has some pedigree. The initial concept was in fact medical, as a therapeutic aid for patients suffering from amnesia or Alzheimer's disease (the device was known as the Vicon Revue). This doesn't prove anything about how well the camera works in practice, of course, but does suggest that there should be something behind the idea.

Autographer key specs

  • 5MP sensor
  • 3mm 1:3.2 ultra-wideangle fixed-focus lens; 136° angle of view; glass hybrid construction
  • Automatic shooting based on input from five sensors
  • 8GB built-in memory (stores up to 28,000 images)
  • Built-in GPS
  • Bluetooth for communication with smartphone
  • Built-in battery, charges over USB
  • 90mm x 37.4mm x 22.9mm
  • 58g

The Autographer isn't the only automatic, wearable camera around: there's also the Memoto, which is superficially quite similar. But there are several key differences; the Memoto doesn't attempt to be 'intelligent', but merely takes a picture every 30 seconds for 'lifelogging'. It uses a narrower angle lens, and is sealed for use in wet weather (the Autographer isn't). Memoto is also designed so that all captured images are automatically uploaded to the company's servers for processing and organisation when the camera is plugged into a computer, and there's no other way to access them - a model some potential users may well be uncomfortable with using.

Image access - smartphone and desktop apps

Autographer uses 8GB of built-in memory that can store up to 28,000 images, which means that the software used to access, sort and process them is pretty important. Two options are available - a free smartphone app (currently iOS only, but with an Android version in development) and a desktop app for Windows and Mac. The latter can be installed directly from the device when you plug it into your computer. Both offer similar options; you can view individual images as stills, play through them as a sequence, and turn them into stop-motion movies. We'll look at them in more detail later.

Etiquette

With this type of device, there are inevitable concerns over etiquette and privacy. It's not obviously a camera, takes pictures without any user intervention, and is also distinctly unobtrusive. So you have to be considerate about how you use it.

In a charmingly British fashion, the camera comes with a little card reminding you of all this, and offering guidelines for usage. It suggests that you familiarise yourself with local customs when visiting a new country, and offer to delete images from your device if unwitting subjects voice any objection. Hopefully this will sound like common sense to most people.

Availability and pricing

The Autographer is sold purely through the company's website, www.autographer.com, for £299.99. OMG Life will ship it to most European countries (UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands, the Republic of Ireland, Portugal, Austria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Sweden), but not, for the moment, the USA. We're told that US sales should start in a couple of months.


If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read the Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Conclusion / Recommendation / Ratings are based on the opinion of the reviewer, you should read the ENTIRE review before coming to your own conclusions.

Images which can be viewed at a larger size have a small magnifying glass icon in the bottom right corner of the image, clicking on the image will display a larger (typically VGA) image in a new window.

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DPReview calibrate their monitors using Color Vision OptiCal at the (fairly well accepted) PC normal gamma 2.2, this means that on our monitors we can make out the difference between all of the (computer generated) grayscale blocks below. We recommend to make the most of this review you should be able to see the difference (at least) between X,Y and Z and ideally A,B and C.

This article is Copyright 2013 and may NOT in part or in whole be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author.

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Comments

Total comments: 123
12
Reg Natarajan

This thing takes narcissism to a new level.

5 upvotes
Andy Westlake

How does taking picture of everything *but* yourself count as narcissism?

3 upvotes
tkbslc

Because you obviously feel that everything you are doing in a day is so awesome that it warrants recording.

14 upvotes
LensBeginner

because it's *your* P.o.V.

2 upvotes
Gesture

Great point. Portraiture can be done from the photographer's point of view or if one is skillful, the subject's

0 upvotes
Nismo350Z

Maybe he meant that narcissists usually enjoy looking at themselves in the mirror, so then the camera works in that regard. *shrugs*

0 upvotes
LensBeginner

'just 'cause I sent the huge alarm clock that usually dangles from my neck back to the shop for chroming... (facepalm)

1 upvote
LaFonte

Maybe big brother can (for some fee) let you search the cctv database for pictures of you. That would be better than a wearable cctv.

2 upvotes
Bob Meyer

This is the logical extension of instagram. Flood the internet with photographs that no one cares about, and few look at, and which document the totally boring nature of your life.

I think this sums up the future: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nn-dD-QKYN4

4 upvotes
ManuelVilardeMacedo

I suppose somewhere in this world there is an idiot predicting this is the future of photography.

7 upvotes
electrophoto

And its very likely he's got an account here...

9 upvotes
andrew turner

IMO this concept needs to be on glasses, and constantly recording with a loop of 2 minutes or so.

That way, you drive past something really interesting, press a button, and say to your passenger,

"did you see THAT?"... and they say no, and you say "I'll show you later."

The picture stream (video) from 5 seconds before and after is saved. You go back later and fish out the image(s) you want.

2 upvotes
Deleted pending purge

Seems like there is no more sense in discussing usefulness of anything that appears on the market, because as long as there are people ready to buy anything, anything will be sold.

1 upvote
Tape5

...and the trash commercialism-trash consumerism loop is neatly closed.

1 upvote
Deleted pending purge

... while resources and energy considerations be damned, along with the manufacturers' sensibility for what the potential users might really need...

0 upvotes
InTheMist

Seems like a toy or a weird gadget for extreme bloggers.

1 upvote
Langusta

"big brother is watching you" and yet you need to pay for it???
I guess, I simlpy don't understand why anyone would pay for such gizmo...what's the purpose of that thing anyway? I do have my mobile and one rather crapy camera that came with it.
OMG...Maybe I'm aging...

0 upvotes
Shengji

I guess you're paying to be big brother - presumably your camera is watching everyone else!

0 upvotes
zodiacfml

it will take trashy imagery since you can't predict where it will shoot.
how come it doesn't have GoPro like sort of attachments where it will have almost limitless applications?

0 upvotes
knize10

Made in China and available at your dollar store.

0 upvotes
knize10

Appears to be easily snatched from someone's neck.

0 upvotes
fuego6

more.. failware.. thx for bringing this device to the masses..!

1 upvote
alFR

"Not obviously a camera"
"distinctly unobtrusive"
I guess it depends on where it's being worn on the user's body, but it has a very distinct lens on it and looks pretty damn obvious in the photo above...

3 upvotes
M Jesper

How to lose friends and alienate people ... If you see anyone with one of these around their neck, avoid contact ! How can anyone have a serious conversation like that.

12 upvotes
duartix

Smartphone = 0$ (I already have one)
App to shoot at (ir?)regular intervals = 0$
Wide angle adapter = 10$
Neck strap = 2$

Come again??? 400£???
Seriously, Oh My Grandmother have a real issue with their price point...
...and IQ...
...and storage...
...but to name a few.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 2 minutes after posting
12 upvotes
jcmarfilph

Unless you are gonna wear one of those Pureview camera phone then it is fine otherwise you will just carry a bigger garbage camera like iPhone etc etc.

3 upvotes
duartix

You are right but that was not my point!
Garbage for garbage I have my phone which by the looks of it is less garbage than this device.
I understand the concept though, and I don't dispute it, I'm just arguing that weight aside, there is almost nothing that this gadget will do that a phone won't.

2 upvotes
WellyNZ

That's great for you that already has a smart phone.

0 upvotes
brumd

Just at the moment I thought one of these gadgets would be fun to do stop-motions of my hiking adventures, I read:
"Built-in battery, charges over USB"

too bad..

actually it's quite handy that it is usb-chargable (with solar power of one of those nifty cooking devices), but not being able to insert a spare battery is very inconvenient; you're bound to miss exactly the part that you wanted to record (after a few rainy days in the sub-arctic).

0 upvotes
jcmarfilph

OMG what a great set of pictures!

Perfect focus, tack-sharp images and wonderful colors!

Well-worth it than reviewing other cameras such as Fuji HS50, Fuji X-S1 etc etc...

4 upvotes
absentaneous

from a purely photographic point of view this thing seems to me pretty useless. even more considering the fact that most of the people carry a (phone) camera with them all the time.

3 upvotes
fotografer

Oh dear, I MUST sell my RX100 now for this!!!

1 upvote
Total comments: 123
12