Design camera that always uploads.
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in Product Design by (725 points) | 280 views

1 Answer

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So the question is for us to design a camera that always uploads.

I want to ask clarifying questions of: What does always uploads mean? Uploads to any type of online photo album or something more bespoke? Does the camera need to upload by itself or can it do it through your phone?

I think these questions will probably become more clear depending on the user groups that are using it as well. So I’ll split the user groups quite simply and discuss why these users may care about an always upload feature:

1. Amateurs – Normal picture takers who enjoy scenic shots, but may not invest in higher priced gear

2. Hobbyists – someone who takes high quality pictures for fun

3. Professionals – someone who makes money off of their pictures

I’m not a huge photographer myself, but I want to compare these groups to both smartphones and current crop of cameras that I hope I am up to date on. I believe the goal of designing a camera that always uploads is to increase its sales.

1. Amateurs

– They say the best camera is the one in your pocket and the one in the amateur’s pocket is probably already sufficient for social media use. They don’t really care about original file sizes, but possibly what’s most convenient.

– I believe this user group would be the hardest to convince to purchase another separate camera

2. Hobbyists

– This group might be convinced to purchase a separate camera due to higher quality of components. However, hobbyists do not make a living off of their photos so the value of uploading your pictures onto the cloud may be limited to social media sharing.

3. Professionals

– Make money off of their photos so having a stable backup in the cloud is important.
– Willing to spend the most money on their gear
– Requires possibly the highest amount of storage

I want to focus on professional because it’s the space that can probably leverage the most out of always uploading. Other groups of users can probably very easily transfer photos to their phones (most cameras have bluetooth functionality now). But because professionals value their pictures more and are most likely to have space constraints, this is very important functionality for them.

For professionals, the user story would be that they take out their camera, set up the functionality of uploading to the cloud, and take a photo while the camera does the rest. I can see a couple of issues we need to solve for:

1. Should this camera be designed with it’s own sim card in mind?

2. Professionals may have very specific requirements for where to upload their pictures – should the camera company offer their own offerings or support all the major professional file upload systems?

3. What if the camera can’t connect to the web?

4. Can the user manage their cloud pictures from the camera?

5. Upload speed – some professional photographer pictures can be larger in size and videos would take even longer so there are concerns regarding data usage and speed of upload

6. Professionals may want to tag and organize their photos before they upload the picture

Now that i have identified some potential requirements for the products, I’ll talk through the potential solutions

1. A camera with a separate sim card may be useful as it reduces any form of lag that can come from using the phone’s own network.

However, the cost is high and most people have their phone nearby. I think the amount of people where this would be useful is low. I think it makes sense to instead have it flow through the phone instead. With respect to phone storage capacities, I do think we should offer an option to store on phone or not.

2. The product should integrate with all major photo platforms. I would probably take stock in, and poll professionals on which website they use the most for photo uploads. I would also work with major private server companies so professionals may even just upload it to their home server back home. Additionally, because of the first suggestion, it might make more sense to build a phone app to handle this interface as most camera interfaces are clunky due to it’s focus on being a Camera.

3. If the camera can’t connect to the web, the camera should alert the user, but also keep a backlog of photos for upload.

4. Professionals should be able to see the pictures that they have stored on the web so along with just uploading pictures, it should also be able to read from the server what pictures are currently there.

5. We will offer the user an option of uploading when connected to WIFI. We can even work with some major wifi networks like xfinity or AT&T to expand the amount of wifi networks this camera can connect to.

A potential second solution and one that I did not think about is that upload can also mean to a hard drive that’s nearby. This will allow for quicker transfers and larger storage capacities.

6. I think professionals would like to be able to tag and organize their photos into folders. However, organizing it into folders may be a hard integration to make depending on the target server. So in my opinion, tags, geolocation, would probably be the most useful. An app would make this easier since you can use things like a keyboard.
I will rank the potential solutions based off of impact and differentiator (from competition) vs cost

1. Building a mobile app, impact is high and cost is high as well. Many cameras have apps in collaboration so differentiator is low.

2. I would say that integrating with all major photo share networks and professional level ones is extremely impactful as it’s the overall goal of the product. It’s also high on differentiation. Cost might be high depending on how much integration is involved. I would prioritize photo sharing apps that are higher in demand.

3. Impact is high, differentiation is minimal since I think most products do this, and cost will be minimal to implement a queue screen.

4. Impact is low, differentiation is minimal, and cost will be high. The reason I say this is because I am assuming most professionals have their phone nearby and can use web or app interfaces to view pictures instead as it’s a more pleasant experience.

5. Impact is high. Differentiation is minimal, and cost will be minimal as this should be fairly simple to implement.

6. Impact is medium, differentiator is minimal and cost will be variable depending on the website it’s being uploaded to.

I would build a MVP of 1,2,3,5 due to them having bigger impacts and also helps us reach our goal.

In summary, in building a camera that always uploads photos, I would build a camera that is always connected to a phone and leverages your cell phone’s network to upload photos. This will require us to build an app on android and iOS. We will offer professionals different choices for where htey want to upload their photos and also upload the full sized image with no compression. We will offer them the ability to wait to connect to wifi and also store a queue.
Great answer. It would be also helpful to ask upfront whether the interviewer was actually referring to a camera app (not a physical camera).
Other detail that could be discussed is the benefits of uploading each image immediately vs. every night (for example).
Good answer. I’d also consider the use case for professionals where a wifi network or LTE is not available (traveling, wildlife photography). In that case we could build a NAS type device that takes all the photos from the camera and stores it from the phone (if the goal is simply to backup). Though this might be quite specialized.

It might also be a good idea for there to be an option on the camera so the user can select which photo to send to the phone to upload. That way a photographer can take say 10 photos, quickly preview them on the camera and send the best 2-3 for upload (saving data, battery and time later on).
Love the answer Scott! Great work!
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