Beyond the photos and the QR: everything you can do with the mobile camera | Your Technology | The country
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The cameras in smartphones have been the most disruptive component of this device since its arrival on the market: it is estimated that 91% of the photographs taken around the world come from mobile phones, relegating traditional cameras to a profile of use residual and niche. And this domain does not stop growing, since it is expected to reach 93% in 2023, cornering more, if possible, dedicated cameras.
But… Are only photographs that can be taken with the lens of a mobile? The power of the processors, the algorithms and the sophistication of these devices offer the user many more functions, some of them really useful, that they may not know about. Let’s review some of the main ones:
Check QR in restaurants
The pandemic has finally made sense of a practical invention that went unnoticed at the time: QR codes. This unique combination gives access to a URL and is already commonly used to view restaurant menus, store hours and to securely activate electronic devices. Scanning a QR is possibly the most popular use of the mobile camera (beyond photography). Its use is already so widespread that it is not necessary, in most cases, to use third-party applications: just point the mobile camera (iPhone or Android) and wait for the system to recognize it; if it doesn’t, you can always turn to Google Lens.
See product reviews and compare prices
The mobile can be the best ally of the consumer in search of a product or to know the reviews or components of it. In this sense, the giant Amazon has provided its mobile application with a button that uses the optics of the camera and artificial intelligence to identify a product and compare it with its catalogue. The idea is simple: you find a product you want to buy, and click on this button for the giant to display it, along with the reviews.
Check the components of food and cosmetics
But when what is sought is to know the nutritional components of food, applications such as Yuka allow access to a huge database of product components through the camera and its barcode, offering a scale of what is healthy (or not) What are they.
Measure dimensions of objects and rooms
The irruption of augmented reality has triggered more, if possible, the potential of the camera on the mobile. Thus, one of the most useful functions is the ability to measure objects and rooms with surprising precision. The most popular application for this purpose on Android is AR Ruler (which uses Google’s ARCore technology on mobiles that support it) and fulfills the same functions as a tape measure, only using the mobile’s camera: just point one end and another of an object, so that the app reports its dimension. iPhones have the native Measures application for the same purpose, although there are many third-party solutions in the application stores of both platforms.
Act as a magnifying glass (enlarging the image)
As the years go by, it becomes more and more difficult to avoid presbyopia and for this reason, some texts become impossible to read (think of the printed components in the bottle of a product, for example). To do this, using a magnifying glass solves the problem, and this is precisely what can be done with the mobile: use its lens to enlarge the image. The free Magnifier app for Android fulfills this task and even allows you to use the flash light to visualize the content even better. The iPhone, for its part, has simplified this process by integrating it natively: just press the side button three times to activate the ‘magnifying glass’ function.
Locate a lost pet
Anyone who has a pet knows very well that few experiences are as traumatic as losing them, but fortunately, technology allows them to be easily located. Devices like Tractive have independent data modules and are permanently connected, so there is no need for a mobile phone to be nearby. However, the most useful part comes with the use of augmented reality: suppose you have lost your dog, and the application places it in a forest. Once you reach it, how can you know exactly its location beyond a map? This application allows you to use the mobile camera to locate it with an accuracy of a few meters.
The quality of mobile optics is making it unnecessary to use a scanner to digitize documents. There are many applications that allow you to scan documents, but storing them once digitized is much more interesting. Both Google and Dropbox offer this possibility from their mobile applications, and with excellent results. Simply point the mobile camera and let the software guide the user to complete the scan.
See the constellations from the mobile screen
Astronomy lovers are in luck: augmented reality allows you to explore the skies in search of constellations in a clear and understandable way. The principle is the same as in all the examples that we are showing from these lines: the camera is pointed and the software offers content related to the direction that the lens is registering. In this way, the exact position of the planets and constellations can be observed (taking into account the user’s position), as well as the stars and other figures in the night sky. There are many applications that allow us to observe the stars, but Sky View from Terminal Eleven is always among the most valued and downloaded on both platforms.
Identify objects and plants
What kind of tree is this? And that plant? What car model is it? These are questions that can be answered in a matter of seconds using the mobile. Once again, the power of Google’s algorithm comes to the rescue with its versatile Lens, a Swiss army knife that identifies virtually everything in front of its lens and can be used on both iPhone and Android. Apple has generated its own algorithm with Visual Search, but with a much smaller scope than the solution proposed by Google.
Translate (and copy) texts
Do you regularly waste a lot of time copying already written texts into a printed document? If so, the great news is that, once again, thanks to Lens, the mobile will do it for you. By pointing the camera at the text in question and pressing the “Text” button, the system will recognize the characters contained in the image, and what is more interesting: they can be copied to the clipboard. In the same way, if the “Translate” button is pressed, the system will translate the text contained in the image into the user’s language.
Receive notifications through the camera flash
We do not leave the photographic system of the mobile, but we move away a little from the lens. On this occasion, to mention something really useful: configure notifications, in addition to vibrating or alerting on the screen, to make the flash blink. This type of alert is especially interesting if the mobile is silent and on the table, and there is a risk that it will go unnoticed. To activate it on Android, go to Settings/Notifications/More settings and finally, Use LED flash for notifications, if the version supports it; otherwise, a free third-party application can be used. iPhone users will find this way to notify in Settings/Accessibility/Audio-visual/Flashing LED Settings.
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