I was shopping in the large superstore with my five-year-old daughter, perfectly unaware that in the next few minutes I would be living through every parent's nightmare ? in an instant my child would disappear from my side. She had been looking through the little dresses right beside me and, when I called her to go try one on, she was no where to be found. I loudly called out her name, trying to keep the panic from my voice, as I frantically looked all around.
I rushed to the front of the store to inform security and the first thing he asked me was, "What was she wearing?" Wearing? What was she wearing? We had dressed quickly that morning, looking forward to a Saturday spent shopping for clothes she would soon wear to kindergarten. Next Tuesday would be her very first day of school. In my panic I couldn't remember what I had pulled from her closet that day. Was it her blue shorts set?no, she had worn that yesterday. I simply couldn't remember.
As I fought back the tears of an anguished parent, I saw my precious little girl walking toward me, holding the hand of an alert clerk who had found her wandering toward the back of the store. When I asked her why she had left me, she innocently explained that she had seen someone who looked like her grandmother and she had simply followed her.
As I hugged her through my tears, I noticed that she was wearing her purple checked shirt and green shorts, and that I had braided her hair that morning before we left home. In my fear over not being able to find her, I had forgotten all those little details about her appearance. And, even worse, I had left my large purse at home with my other wallet that held my latest picture of her.
Later, as my husband and I were discussing what had happened, he mentioned one of his customers had told him the last time he had taken his four children to the theme park, he had lined them all up at the entrance and taken each one's picture with his wife's cell phone camera. That way if one of them became lost, he could instantly show security his child's picture, complete with the very clothes they were wearing at the time they disappeared.
The day of my ordeal, my camera-equipped cell phone had been in my bag around my waist the entire time. It had never once occurred to me to snap my child's picture in the parking lot as we walked toward the large store. Honestly, I hadn't used the camera feature that much, and had purchased the phone more for some other features than the fact that it could take a picture.
Camera cell phones were first introduced in the US about two years ago. Since then, their popularity has skyrocketed. Industry officials estimate that 12% of all cell phones sold in 2003 were equipped with a camera and that figure is steadily increasing. The camera cell phone may well be the most popular electronic device this holiday season.
Concerns over picture quality are diminishing rapidly as the digital electronics in cell phone cameras become more and more advanced. One and two megapixel models are readily available and, according to an independent study released this past summer, pictures from these tiny cameras make "significantly better" 4" x 6" prints than those from both digital and traditional film "one-time-use" cameras.
Convenience of obtaining prints from cell phone cameras is still something of an issue, as it may be difficult to print from the camera itself. But as more consumers purchase and use the digital devices, manufacturers will no doubt fill that need with inexpensive, convenient and high-quality printing options.
You would think that a camera in a mobile phone wouldn't be much different than having a small, stand-alone digital camera. In reality, however, the phone is always at your side while the camera may not be. And, the photo can be immediately transferred to anyone with the click of a button.
Phones are being used to document accident scenes, take pictures of car license plates and even potential attackers. Just last month a Nashville man was accosted by a man with a knife, later identified as James Robert Baker, who demanded money. The victim snapped the assailant's photo with his camera cell phone as the mugger made his escape. Police used the photos from the camera phone to broadcast an accurate description of Baker and his red GMC truck. A police officer stopped the truck and arrested Baker approximately 10 minutes later.
Camera phones are popular with small business owners who use them for any number of tasks that range from verifying that the correct repair part is ordered to documenting the satisfactory completion of a job. Real estate professionals can quickly inform prospective buyers of a hot property just on the market, insurance agents can speed accident and damage claims and contractors can quickly verify building details without leaving the construction site.
Recent developments in cell phone applications include using the camera as a bar code scanner enabling savvy shoppers to instantly download coupons, product information and perhaps even suggesting alternative locations where the item may be found at a better price.
Given the enormous popularity of camera phones, it is not surprising that there is even more exciting mobile technology on the horizon. Nokia has introduced a phone (Model 3650) that can take video clips as well as photos.
Since that incident with my daughter, it has become our morning ritual to snap a quick picture of her as we head out the door in the morning. I think she understands now that she is never to leave my side in a public place for any reason without permission, but children are apt to do the most unexpected things.
The next time you are shopping for a cell phone, you may wish to consider the many options available, and give an extra long look to the camera phone models. That camera cell phone that you thought was just a passing fad may be a much more practical purchase than you would have ever imagined.
Copyright ? 2004 Best Cell Phone Plan
About The Author
Elizabeth Edwards is a successful freelance writer, providing consumers with tips and helpful advice when purchasing camera cell phones, family cell phone plans and motorola cell phone accessories. Some of her numerous informative articles can be found at http://www.best-cellular-phone-plan.com/