A fun idea in theory, OMG Life’s Autographer is a wearable camera you clip to your shirt or wear around your neck to capture photos at set intervals. An accompanying app facilitates GIF and video creation with your images, and tags your photos with GPS and other information. But at £299 (approx. $480 USD) the Autographer is way too expensive given its poor photo quality and unrefined user experience. You’re better off with an inexpensive wearable video camera like the $50 Mecam to document the world around you.
Reminiscent of a department store security tag, the 2-ounce Autographer measures 3.54 by 1.47 by 0.90 (HWD) inches. It’s not huge, but when it’s clipped to the middle of your chest, you’re instantly aware of how bulky and awkward it looks. When wearing the camera walking around the New York City streets, I got plenty of confused looks.
A yellow camera lens cover juts out a few millimeters from the glossy black plastic body, while the sturdy plastic clip to attach the camera to your clothes is around back; underneath there’s a metal connector for the included lanyard. The cover doesn’t fully rotate, but turning it clockwise reveals the camera lens, a counterclockwise turn hides it.
Hidden seamlessly underneath the plastic is a tiny OLED display showing battery level, number of photos taken, and other vital stats, and a capture indicator flashes each time a photo is taken. Two buttons on the side let you toggle through the various settings.
The Autographer is loaded with environmental sensors to add context to the hundreds of images you capture each day. There’s a light sensor to automatically adjust camera exposure, a magnetometer to determine your direction, a thermometer for recording ambient temperature, a GPS radio for saving location data, and an accelerometer for measuring movement. All of this information is supposed to accompany each photo you snap, but that’s not what I experienced. GPS tagging, for example, was sporadic at best. During my tests indoors, I didn’t expect the GPS to work, but when I was outside the Autographer tagged only 24 of 260 of my images. On another day it didn’t tag any outdoor photos.
The Autographer has a 5-megapixel sensor and a wide-angle lens with a 136-degree field of view, giving every photo a fisheye-lens effect. It does not record video. Holding one of the two side buttons activates a sequence mode that captures a series of images in rapid succession until you stop it. On its highest-frequency setting, the Autographer takes a photo every 8-10 seconds. On medium it takes one every 25-30 seconds, and on low it’s every 60-70 seconds. At high frequency with GPS enabled, I was able to get about six hours of photos before the battery died, a poor showing for a camera that’s supposed to capture your whole day. On the bright side, the onboard storage (8GB) was less than 10 percent full after taking more than 2,000 photos.
Even though it costs more than many point-and-shoot cameras, the Autographer’s photos are akin to those you’d shoot with a low- to midrange smartphone. They’re not great. Most of my well-lit outdoor shots were plagued with lens flare that washed out the photos, making them look like they were filtered through Instagram. There’s no flash either, so photos in low light are very grainy. And since the camera and the subjects are often moving when shots are taken, most of the photos I captured were blurry.
There are no options to adjust photo quality, or any camera settings besides frequency of photo capture. Given you’re wearing the Autographer all the time, it’s bound to grab some awkward and hilarious shots, but when the photos themselves are unusable, it’s less amusing—especially for over $400.
Software and Sharing
There are Autographer apps for PC and Mac, as well as an iOS app that let you scroll through your imported photos, create GIFs and videos from the pictures you’ve captured, and share them online. The company says an Android app is in the works.
Plugging the camera into your computer, via the micro USB port and included cable, opens Autographer’s desktop app for importing your captured photos. (The install files for the app are included in the Autographer itself.) In my tests, scrolling through the wide expanse of two days’ worth of images was choppy and slow. Bringing the scrollbar to the top of the window sometimes caused the app to freeze, and then it would load a new crop of photos instantly, moving the scrollbar to the middle of the window and causing me to lose my place. Also, elements that should fade away after a short time (like tips or alerts) remain on the screen, so you have to minimize the window or hover over them to make them disappear.
You can create GIFs and videos (at 480p, 720p, or 1080p) from your still images, and adjust the frame rate from one to 12 frames per second. When creating a GIF of about 900 images (about two hours of photos), the progress bar remained at 0 percent for more than 35 minutes, with no indication of whether or not it was processing the photos. Restarting the app twice allowed me to finally create my large GIF and video in about 5 minutes. Creating a GIF on a Mac with about 100 images caused the application to crash more than once. Selecting fewer images (about 75) made creating GIFs or video more smooth, and the end result was surprisingly delightful, making me wish I could use more images without running into errors. The GIF you’re seeing below is a set of 12 images from New York Comic Con at 8 frames per second.
Sharing in Autographer’s desktop apps, on the other hand, is easy. To do so, select your photos, videos, or GIFs, and click the Sharing button. You can upload to Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube, or Autographer’s own service, which stores photos and creations on the Web for free.
In the mobile app, meanwhile, you can share to Autographer, Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr, copy the photos to your camera roll, assign one to a contact, print, or email them. GIF or video creation in the iOS app is limited to 50 photos of the thousands you take throughout the day, which is too restrictive. Pairing the camera with my iPhone 4s via Bluetooth for using the iOS app, however, was quick and easy.
In the end, the Autographer seems more like a gimmicky social experiment than a genuine attempt at creating a quality hardware and software experience. With products like Google Glass on the horizon, inexpensive inconspicuous video recorders like the MeCam, and the small niche of people who want to relentlessly record their lives, the Autographer seems doomed. The way-too-high price and poor design and execution make it a product to pass on.
|Dimensions||3.54 x 1.47 x 0.9 (HWD) inches|
|Interface Ports||micro USB|
|Battery Type Supported||Rechargeable|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc