One of the most interesting aspects of mobile technology is its ability to bust age-old adages like, "A picture is worth a thousand words."
Before digital cameras and mobile phones, this seemed like a good way to describe the concept of absorbing a lot of information quickly. But these days, pictures can be worth more than gold, and the camera on your mobile phone does a lot more than just take pictures.
When cameras were first installed on mobile phones, the intent was for people to capture the moments of their lives, but now, with the advent of apps, cameras can do things never before imagined.
Scan documents: You can use your phone or tablet camera to take pictures of documents and convert them into printable PDFs. This is useful for capturing paper documents out in the field. I know a labor contractor whose managers scan timecards on a daily basis with an iPhone. Apps include Google Drive and Genius Scan.
Read barcodes and price checking: On the rare occasion I actually go into a store to buy something, I always check the prices of what I plan to purchase against the Internet. Your camera can be used to read the barcode of a product and search for prices at online retailers. My favorites are Red Laser and Price Check by Amazon.
Photo search: Google Goggles is an app that allows you to take a picture of something and find matching items on the Internet. You can photograph landmarks, artwork, products, newspaper and magazine ads, and many other items, and the app will display relevant search results. Goggles will also translate text on a page and scan business card data to your contact list. Google Goggles can even solve Sudoku puzzles.
Mark up photos: One of the best ways of conveying information is to mark up a photo. Skitch is an app that lets you add lines, arrows, text, boxes, highlights and other visual elements to photos you take with your mobile device. Each time I measure my silage pile, I take a picture of it and type the length of the pile on the picture. This way I have a record of the date, time and amount of feed left.
Photo Notes: Here is an area where a picture is still worth 1,000 words. I take pictures of everything—my parking space at the airport, parts I need to pick up in town, magazine articles I want to remember, leaking injector lines, problems with cows, status of crops, serial number plates, progress of construction projects and many other things.
Instagram: Many people are using the "picture is worth a thousand words" concept to share their stories on the Internet. Instagram is a social photo-sharing app that allows you to easily snap a picture, edit it with fun effects and share it with your friends and family.
This article is 500 words long, and I probably couldn’t have conveyed all this good info in one picture, but I guarantee the pictures I have taken with my phone have saved me millions of keystrokes with my thumbs.
Dino Giacomazzi is the fourth genera-tion to manage his family’s dairy farm near Hanford, Calif. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.