Really? You want to use a selfie stick?

Whether its walking around the city, or at an event, I am continually amazed at what I see as a bunch of self absorbed people waving selfie sticks to capture the moment rather than experiencing the moment. Whether that is more a symptom of advancing years turning me into the proverbial "grumpy old man", or a legitimate gripe is a discussion for another time. But there was no way I was ever going to touch a selfie stick!

The turning point for me was going for a "walk along" with one of our customers. Our solution uses classified photographs to describe assets. The customer on this occasion was photographing residential water meters, and the meter reader was a fit and able young man. However, after having to bend down for the 300th time in a morning to photograph the face of the meter the young man was feeling more than a little weary and said "this would be so much easier with a selfie stick". It finally dawned on me - the selfie stick doesn't just have to be for self absorbed millennials - it might just have a valuable role in asset data capture.

So the next step was to check whether it would even work - up till now I'd been blissfully ignorant of the selfie stick. There were two basic varieties that I came across - a wired and a Bluetooth version to control the camera shutter. The wired version uses the same technology as your headphones with a volume control (try it - if you have the camera open and turn the volume up or down the shutter will go off on the camera). The benefit of the wired version is that it has no external power source. The Bluetooth version on the other hand has a small battery in the control which may be an issue in some hazardous environments. The wired version was purchased for less than $10 and the Bluetooth version for less than $50, so they are very inexpensive items.

So I'd tested our app with some selfie sticks and convinced myself that technically it could work, but surely using a selfie stick in a real asset data collection project would not add value? How wrong I was. I went through an exercise recently trying to take photos in a lab. I didn't bring a selfie stick with me and and approximately 25% of the assets that I sought to capture were impossible to capture with a hand held smart phone. These were also impossible to capture with traditional methods (ie. writing down make/model).

To demonstrate this, have a look at the photo of the Filter Regulator on the left below. This device is more than 2m (>7ft) up in the air, and very close to a wall. I couldn't get within a metre (3ft) of the device. I believed the name plate was at the rear of the device, but there was no way I could get close to have a look. Selfie stick to the rescue!!! I revisited the lab, this time armed with a selfie stick. This time it was a trivial exercise to capture the name plate. The use of front and rear cameras allows you to control the camera even in very difficult to access areas. And whilst my focus on this particular shot was more about showing the angles and distance from me to the name plate, I can still clearly see that it is a Bray Controls part number of 551000-74603533.

I'm probably still becoming more of a grumpy old man with each passing day, but for now I'm a convert when it comes to using the selfie stick on asset data capture projects. Use your selfie sticks for good and not evil.






Stephen Crampton