Localise and Geotagging

Loc.alize.us (apart from using the silly subdomain, domain, tld combination) is a really cool, but very simple, web application which just pinpoints photos on a map. Drag the map around (just like you do on Google Maps) and wait for markers to appear. These markers represent photos taken in that place. Browse around your town and see what photos you can find.

The application seems to use photos which are 'geotagged' (over 300k) and longitude/latitude coordinates, from Flickr. These photos are then plotted on a map of the world, courtesy of Google Maps.

There are a few ways you can geotag photos for use on Flickr. One method involves manually looking up the postcode of the area and then searching on a mapping service for the longitude/latitude information. Obviously this is far from ideal as it requires knowing the postcode of the area, and then manually (meh, effort) looking up this information.

Richard Rutter recommends using Multimap for manually finding out this geo information.

You can find the coordinates of your chosen location (perhaps your house, office or just the centre of your city) using Multimap - the latitude and longitude of any location is displayed in the Map Info box below every map.

A more automated solution involves installing an application on your mobile phone. ZoneTag, from the research lab at Yahoo! uploads photos automatically annotated with the location (usually based on cell tower) in which they were taken. Merkitys-Meaning also adds locational information, such as cell information, country, city and GPS (if Bluetooth GPS device). This is fine, but many people won't be taking photos with their mobile and certainly won't want to waste money uploading them through these services. (I'm not sure whether the informtion is saved if the photo is uploaded via a computer).

What is needed is a super digital camera. Instead of adding more and more megapixels to consumer cameras (which most do not really need, it just eats up memory cards and use up too much space if you're taking a lot of photographs), I think camera manufactures should be adding in new features.

I would be very interested in buying a camera which had moderate megapixels (4-5) but included a GPS device (to record the longitude/latitude coordinates), a compass (for direction) and an altimeter (to measure the altitude of the device). If all this information was recorded automatically and stored on the photo, much like EXIF data (exposure time, aperture size, date etc) currently does, then it would provide a phenomenal amount data for processing and comparing.

If a camera featured everything mentioned above, Loc.alize.us would work a infinitely better. There would be far more accurate information, from a wider demographic (not just geeks with toys) and possibly even more cool features - such as the possibility of panoramic photos (taken from multiple photos with different compass directions, but the same, or very similar, coordinates).

So, please, someone develop and sell me one of these devices. That is all, thanks.