The Autographer is a name you're going to be hearing more and more in camera-snapping circles. It's an intelligent time-lapse stills camera of a sort and what separates this device from the common or garden variety is that it decides when it's time to take a picture.
The basic premise of this fascinating gadget is that you wear it round your neck. When the sensors inside it realise something interesting is happening, the Autographer silently captures the moment in a 5-megapixel photograph. Said sensors look out for changes in temperature, colour, direction, acceleration and subject motion, and each triggers the shutter. What you end up with, according to its designers, is a fascinating, natural and very candid look at your day.
The back-illuminated sensor is comparable to that inside a smartphone with the fixed focus, 0.6m-infinity lens made of glass for both durability and clarity. The angle of capture is even wider than that of a cameraphone, with the horizontal at 136 degrees of coverage and the vertical approaching the same. Naturally, the effect is something of a fish-eye look to each shot. It's something that parent company OMG could have flattened out but it seemed more authentically POV, so the engineers left it.
The 37.4 x 90 x 22.9mm Autographer seems to cover all the spec-bases which just leaves you thinking of a good reason for using it. The battery will last more than a day on a single charge. The 8GB on-board storage space is enough to capture a week or two's worth of snaps before filling up. It features GPS to record the location of each shot plus Bluetooth so that you can transfer images wirelessly to your mobile phone, from where you can post them direct to Facebook and Twitter via a dedicated Autographer app or send them on elsewhere yourself.
It's fairly light at 58g, it's as simple and innocuous as you could get and it rather comes off like a small Flip video camera. A touch of a button reveals an OLED reading of the Autographer's settings through a transmissive section of the plastic casing. As it goes, there's purposefully not an awful lot to choose from. You can select between three settings relating to sensitivity of the sensors and, therefore, how many pictures per day you're likely to get. You can also turn the Bluetooth on and off to save battery.
What you decide to document with the Autographer is entirely up to you. There have been suggestions of taking it to a festival or wearing it on a night out; having it round your neck or attached to the strap of your bag at a party; fixing it to the handlebars of your bicycle as you ride around town; popping it in the corner of the room at a dinner party or even just sitting it facing you at your desk as you work. The results, we're promised, have been fascinating and we thoroughly look forward to getting the Autographer in for review to see for ourselves.
One can expect to sift through up to 2,000 pictures a day on high sensitivity mode and OMG will be offering a "light cloud" service as somewhere to upload them as well as software which will help you process them as animated GIFs and stop motion videos or just strips of stills, of course.
The only part that's a little tough to swallow is the price. The Autographer will cost £399 at launch in November from the Autographer website. We're not doubting the amount of technology and development that's gone into it but it's a fair whack for something with a smartphone-sized sensor without the rest of a smartphone attached to it.
The final concern is that there's no flash on the Autographer. Now, the wide angle on the lens will help but is it really going to be up to the task of documenting those evenings out in low light?
Nonetheless, we're looking forward to having some fun with this one and we suspect plenty of other photography enthusiasts are too.