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Tuesday, 18 September, 2001, 12:58 GMT 13:58 UK
Taking pictures with your phone
Graphic BBC
BBC Go Digital's Jon Wurtzel casts a wry eye over the developments in the world of technology

The Japanese are crazy about taking miniature pictures of themselves.

Downtown Tokyo is already full of what are called Purikura photo booths.

People dive into them - on their own or with friends- just to catch a moment on film.

Sharp cameraphone Sharp
Is it a phone?Is it a camera?
The craze is getting mobile with the help of a new cameraphone from Japanese electronics giant Sharp.

The Sharp J-SH04 phone allows you to take sneaky shots of yourself and your friends with a tiny digital camera that is integrated into the cellphone.

Mirror and self-timer

The phone features a 110,000-pixel camera on the back side of the phone and a large 256-color STN display on the front side.

It also has a 500-number phone book, one-button web access, speaker phone, and Li-ion battery capable of 125 minutes of talktime.

Click here to tell us what you would use the cameraphone for

You compose your pictures by using the onscreen display, or you can flip the phone around and use the self-timer.

There even is a tiny mirror next to the lens to help you frame self-portraits.

Then, when you have caught the image, fire up your personal SkyMail service, and you can send the pictures electronically to anybody else who has got one of these phones.

With the addition of Sharp's miniature Color Mobile Printer, you can run off copies on the move, too.

So what would you do with a gadget like this, particularly as it costs nearly US $500?


If it were cheap enough for teenagers, I could see it being a great way of shopping for clothes on a wide scale. No longer would girls have to go in groups, they could each scout out the good outfits, send pictures, and compare prices. It would be inclusive - even if one of the gang is too ill, or busy their opinion can be sought.

Prove you've met your pop idol and send the pictures straight away.

Set your friends up on dates and send instant pictures to potential mates.

Infinite uses for the teenager, not entirely sure what the rest of us would do with one though.
Lizz, UK

Ericsson have a camera module that fits onto an Ericsson mobile phone.
Mark Kelsall, England

A picture-shooting cellphone certainly is a curious invention. It could be handy for delicate investigation or infiltration. If you disguise it a bit better, who would know to look for a camera on a phone?
Johanna, Finland

I would like to use it when I am very angry, like when I have taken a day off work and a tradesman does not appear. I would also use it to express joy, like when I am especially pleased by a present. As an amateur artist it would also help to show what I am currently working on, to enquirers.
John Cornish, Australia

It would be an easy way to let like minded hobbyists see what you have got, and, even let the wife choose her present from abroad!
Robbie, Scotland

Take pictures of friendly dogs I see when I walk around.
John, US

I would use the cameraphone to talk to people in a separate location and also to take photographs.
Steven Shelley, UK

Just another example of technological advances enticing us to pay ever more money for lower quality images.
Stuart Cordon, UK

It's an obvious move. Eventually all portable gadgets, phone, camera, palm computer must come together in one communications device.
Julian Ilett, UK

I would use the camera phone to take pictures of my best friend, my dog Benson.
Miles Brown, England

The next logical step, but I think the quality is too inferior to be of much practical use. If someone is going to do it, then at least they could do it properly with a 4 megapixel zoom camera, 1Gb RAM, Global Positioning and fast data transfer via infra-red or wireless or cable to computer/ftp/e-mail account, video transmission to TV preview, and in addition to being a phone, PDA, web browser, internet radio and mp3 player/recorder. We will soon end up with lots of obsolete also-rans when one holy grail of a device will eventually be able to do it all. On the other hand, if it gives people a lot of fun and they can afford it, then each to their own.
Andy Haveland-Robinson, Hungary

I love taking pictures, by I hate having to carry another gadget. If it is integrated with the phone, as should the organizer and the browser, that would be just so cool.
Gabriel Henao, USA

It's only a first step in making that video cell phone. I can see companies releasing this phone to get as much cash as they could so they could continue their quest to making that perfect video cellphone.
Trung Nguyen, US

Put the camera on the front, then you're ready for video phone calls.
Sam Silverstein, USA

This would be helpful in my line of work. Since I am the manager of safety and health department, I could take a picture of a problem and send it directly to the responsible manager. You do not have to be a teenager to use something new, exciting and helpful.
murf, USA

I'm not sure what I would use this for, if I had one, but I'm sure it would be useful. Also, it is a bit pricey, at the moment, but I'm sure that as other manufacturers get into the act, the price for these phones will come down. If the pictures could be sent as e-mails to anyone, then they would be more useful.
Antony Tyler, England

The next step forward, a mobile phone with digital camera, will the video phone come into use next? This phone would be great fun, shame about the price though.
Stew, England

I would use the camera during business meetings to take sneaky pictures of competitors notes for analysis later.
Levi Buckley, UK

I can't wait. There's so much I'm looking forward to photographing ... grumpy commuters, clouds, sleeping dogs, minor vehicle collisions in car parks, geese, steam, have-a-go-heroes, ... and then presumably I'll be able to email the pictures to all my friends.
Glenn Broadway, UK

I first used this phone when a friend of mine brought his back from Japan. The worst of it is, this technology is extremely basic, it's just the integration of an extremely cheap digital camera with some flash memory, and a mobile phone, yet western technology firms just have not made the leap to providing this kind of phone to consumers. A great deal of fuss is made about the promise of 3G technology, but realistically, this is still at least a year away from the UK consumer. The technology demonstrated in the J-Phone has been around since the middle of last year, yet only now is BT in discussion with Sharp to bring it to the UK. Why do UK consumers have to wait for so long?
Seb Potter, UK

Here are some good uses I just thought up. In car accidents, you can take a photo, and send it directly to the insurance company. If you have an injury, then you can send a photo straight to NHS direct, or the ambulance men so they know what to expect. On similar lines, photo something like a fire or incident so the police know what they are dealing with before they get there.
Chris Hunter, England

Great for spying. The camera could be held against a keyhole, and the images immediately sent to any interested parties.
Rob Holman, London, England

I often travel overseas on business from Australia. A phone like this would mean that I could send back pictures of my experiences while travelling and my family could send me pictures of the children's birthdays and other special events which I always seem to miss. Seeing a picture while on the phone to the family would be just that little bit closer to actually being there and make these long trips a little less lonely.
Will Meyerink, UK

It's incredible> Here in Botswana, we are waiting to see the phone in the shops.
Paul Kariuki, Botswana

It could be used if you have a traffic accident and need a photo of the scene for insurance reasons.
Ken G, Scotland

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You can hear Jon every week on Go Digital, which is webcast on the BBC World Service site and BBC News Online every Monday at 1500 GMT.

It is broadcast on BBC World Service radio on:

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See also:

27 Aug 01 | Sci/Tech
Games blur fantasy and reality
04 Sep 01 | Sci/Tech
From paper to the internet
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