The Autographer is a wearable camera that you can clip to your clothes or hang on your neck. It will then automatically take photos.
Its most basic purpose is rooted in life logging. Meaning, it records your life via photos. It works with several sensors to help it decide when to take a photo. Using these sensors, the device decides if the moment is interesting enough and takes a picture of it.
The Autographer comes with five built-in sensors that help you take great photos and remember details about a particular great moment. The accelerometer helps keep track of your camera’s movement and gravity, helping your device know if it should be taking a photo upside-down. The magnetometer acts like the device’s compass, while the thermometer helps track changes in ambient temperature. There’s also the color sensor, which helps track changes in brightness and lighting conditions. The PIR, meanwhile, detects motion.
The device also comes with a GPS, so that your photos come with location information.
The Autographer takes on a box design, measuring 3.5 inches long, 1.5 inches wide and less than an inch thick. You’ll find the lens on one side, with a rotating lens cover. It comes with a clip that you can use to attach the camera to your body, along with a loop for the neck strap. It also features an OLED display at the top front side that allows you to fiddle with the settings.
The camera has a micro USB port on the right side, while two physical buttons, Menu and Action, are found on the other side. The Action button powers your camera on and off, and this also takes a manual burst shot of photos. Menu, on the other hand, is used to scroll through the camera’s settings menu. If you want to change a particular setting, you press on Action. Meanwhile, the micro USB port is used for charging, as well as for transferring your photos to a computer.
The Autographer is very light that you can clip it on the entire day and not notice it.
How to use your Autographer
The device is actually very straightforward. To turn it on, long press on the Action button then rotate the cover on the lens and the Autographer will start snapping images by itself. Then another long press on the Action button and it turns off. If you want to take photos at any time, you can press the Action button and it will take photos just like pressing the shutter key on a normal camera. It does not get simpler than that.
The Menu. Aside from the status display that tells you about your battery level, recorded images and memory status, you have five different menu settings. These are:
- Capture – High, medium and low, meaning you capture 200, 100 and 50 images in an hour.
- Bluetooth connection
- GPS connection
- Sound – Toggling operational sounds on and off.
- Indicator status – Toggling whether the blue circle blinks every time a photo is taken.
Software. One of Autographer’s minor annoyances is that you end up with pretty much a lot of useless pictures. Thousands in a day is normal.
This is where the software comes in handy. Allowing you to easily manage your photos, delete those that you do not like, add keywords and tags, mark your favorite photos and share them on social media, such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. It also allows you to share you photographs on Autographer’s site. You could also create animated gifs or slideshows with your photos.
The desktop app allows you to sign up for an account at Autographer’s Web site. When you import photos from your camera, you have the option to delete these files from the camera, since you are transferring them to your desktop anyway. You have the Stream view, which shows your pictures in thumbnail sizes. Once you have selected a particular day that you want to view, you will be shown a GPS map that displays where you have been that day. Select a thumbnail and you will find sensor information for that particular picture.
If you find a photo you like, simply double click on that thumbnail and you will see a Cinema view of that picture, which is basically an enlarged view of the image. It is called a Cinema view because from there, you can browse images automatically, making it seem like a movie about a day in your life.
You can also make a movie by choosing several thumbnails and then clicking on the Create button while in the opening view. You can add music to your photo slideshow or movie, or even choose variable framerates.
There is also a companion iOS app, which has fewer features than the desktop app. However, you can still create movies that have a resolution of 640 pixels by 480 pixels. You will need to pair your Autographer to your iPhone or iPad using Bluetooth, and then just press the yellow Connect button to access your photographs. The smartphone app divides your photos into “Chapters”, which is basically the dates on which these photos were taken. Just tap on the chapter to see your stream.
The GPS information provided by the mobile app is far more detailed than the ones provided in the desktop version. To create a movie, you only need to select multiple photos by long pressing on an image and then adding more images to it. If you want to know more about Autographer’s features, click here.
Okay, so how do the pictures look?
The Autographer has a wide range of view at 136 degrees. It can also be set to take photos in a semi-fisheye state, meaning that straight lines in the photo tend to be curved in the picture. The colors are quite vivid, and the saturation is high when you shot an image in good light. Shooting with a good light, you tend to have good pictures if you are up close, but from a distance the image loses its sharpness. If you take photographs with the sun in the frame, it is normal to have lens flare, red dots and streaks.
In low light conditions, the camera can still give you striking shots as far as color saturation and over image quality goes. But there is a lot of color noise that can lower the image quality.
And then you have to remember that Autographer is a wearable camera. You are not holding it so framing and composition can be pretty much hit and miss, a lot of the images you get are blurred. It basically works with the numbers game, you take several photos in a day and one of these photos is bound to come out okay. In other words, you’ll end up having quite a few bad photos to find a good one.
Some other downsides
Using Bluetooth to transfer images from the camera to your iPhone or iPad can be a problem. Most other cameras use Wi-Fi to wirelessly transfer photos. This is because Wi-Fi allows for higher bandwidth than Bluetooth. It is not noticeable, however, because the Autographer transfers the thumbnails to your iPhone and only recovers the full photo when you click on it. So the sizes of the files you are actually transferring from your camera to your phone is not that big.
Also, using the smartphone app, you are only able to create VGA quality movies of up to 100 frames, so you need to go to your desktop app to create better movies.
Lastly, if you want to use the Autographer as a normal camera, you simply can’t because there is no viewfinder that would allow you to take photographs the same way you would to a normal camera.
The bottom line
The Autographer is a pretty straightforward wearable camera that does what it promises to do. It is also very lightweight – you can even forget you have it on. It comes with easy to use and powerful software to help you sort through the pictures you have and help you manage them. You can even create movies with your photos easily.
However, with Autographer, you could not expect to have great images. The image quality alone is below par than most handheld and smartphone cameras and that gets worse in low light conditions. You should also remember that since you are not holding the device, composition and framing are pretty much very random.
Nevertheless, it may be able to give you a unique photograph because people are not aware of it. No forced smiles, no awkward moments, just simultaneous, un-posed and unrehearsed photos.
Is it worth the $399.00 price tag? If you are looking for something to log your life, then it is. If you are creative you can probably come up with some great hits with the camera. Just do not expect DSLR and smartphone quality photos with the device.
One of the biggest issues that you can bring up when talking about the Autographer is privacy. Because you can basically turn off the “picture-taking” notifications, you can go around documenting other people and other things without their knowledge. But this is not to say that the Autographer does not value other people’s privacy. They give you an ethics lesson in their documentations: ask permissions, delete the photos when requested and be mindful of private moments. You can also slide over the lens cover to announce to people that you’re currently taking photos. It also has a yellow disk cover that tells people that Autographer is not taking pictures at that moment.
UPDATED FOR 2017
This review that was originally written in 2014 has been updated for 2017.
It has been claimed as the first intelligent camera in the world. The device is wearable and all you need to do is clip it on the clothes or a bag. This camera takes pictures automatically. One of the basic reasons it was created is life logging, which means that you can record every moment of your life with it. There are several sensors built in to the device that help it recognize moments which are picture worthy.
With the help of these censors it can be determined when the picture is supposed to be taken. The Autographer has five sensors that enable to determine picture worthy shots and capture them in absolute detail. There is the accelerometer, magnetometer, color sensor and PIR. All of them help the camera in taking great pictures.
There is also a GPS which helps you determine the locations of the pictures.
How does it look?
The camera comes with a sleek design, like a box. It measures 3.5 inches long, 1.5 inches wide and less than an inch in thickness. There is a lens positioned on one side with a rotating cover. It can be attached to your body with a clip or worn around the neck with a strap. The OLED display helps users navigate the device easily.
It is very light weight, and does not weigh down on the person wearing it.
There is a USB port and an 8GB memory which comes quite in handy given the hundreds of pictures that the camera can record any day. The software enables users to manage thse pictures and share them of social media platforms if they desire. The Autographers’s own website also enables picture and video sharing.
The camera has a wide range view of 136 degrees. If the user wishes, they can set it to a fish eye spectrum, which means that pictures will be curved. With good light, you can take great close ups, however with sun, you may have to deal with lens flare or red dots.
The Bottom Line
You may experience problems transferring pictures from Bluetooth to an iOS supported smartphone. Simply put, it is quite a straightforward camera that does not require much input when it comes to functionality.
If you are expecting pictures of great quality, then this is not what you want. The picture quality is quite average and there have been concerns of privacy invasion as well. Since people can turn off the picture notifications, the user can capture or document whoever they want without asking them permission. If consent is not given, it can be an ethics violation as well.
The Autographer came into the market quite some time ago, yet it retails for a hefty price of $400, which sometimes even goes up. This is primarily because if you wish to buy this product, you may have to contact an individual seller or an E-Commerce platform. Perhaps, Amazon may be retailing it but it is not going to be cheap.
If you are really into keeping a life log and want to invest in a wearable camera as such, then the Autographer is worth a consideration.