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An actually useful use for “Color”

The ‘Net’s been abuzz the last few days over a new iPhone and Android app named Color. Mostly, people have been asking why some of the nation’s hottest venture capitalists would already have dropped $41 million into an app whose only purpose is the random sharing of photos with people who also have the app and happen to be taking pictures nearby. (This article says within 100 feet; I think it’s actually 150.) The thing is reportedly a bit clunky to use, too.

It works like this (from what I’ve read and seen so far; correct me if I’m wrong). If you’re within the specified distance of another photographer — anybody — complete stranger — and you both have Color and take pictures, they’re shared. (I’m not clear on whether photos are shared only among those who are actively taking photos, or whether anybody who has Color will receive the photos of others, whether taking his own pix or not.) My first thought was that the major investment in such a pointless (and potentially dangerous) app is a sure sign that the 2011 version of the bubble is about to pop. And maybe it is.

But aside from the possibilities for drunken partiers, industrial spies, and performance artists, I just realized there’s a brilliant possibility for Color, albeit probably not one that will make its backers the money they’re aiming for.

Where are dozens of people likely to be taking photos at the same time? Yeah, you got it. Someplace where police have decided to kick the cr*p out of some poor sucker or do something else violent and/or illegal. If Color catches on, their old trick of confiscating cameras and erasing the images won’t do them as much good. Because somebody at the edge of the crowd will have photos from the confiscated devices and will dash away with the evidence.

Now … if Color could do video instead of mere stills … OTOH, the effect of multiple people snapping stills at once could be as effective as video in showing what happened. Velly intellesting …


  1. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty March 25, 2011 7:08 am

    Even better is uploading the photos or video to a remote location as it is being taken. Then confiscation of the phone or camera is immaterial. I think any modern cell phone with internet capacity can do that if it already has an established connection to a remote server or computer. One can also send the images as email to oneself at home, though that isn’t quite the same as a live feed.

    Of course, the more different people taking and uploading those pictures, the better.

  2. Claire
    Claire March 25, 2011 7:14 am

    MamaLiberty — Absolutely. You’re right. Since I don’t do much with mobile technology I’d forgotten about that capability. Color might take it to a new level, but let’s hope plenty of people catching official wrongdoing are already doing that.

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