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N.Y. Times photographer creates backpack that wirelessly streams images back to newsroom

Pulitzer-winning photographer Josh Haner displays his streaming backpack. Credit: New York Times

Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Josh Haner displays his streaming backpack. (Credit: New York Times)

During his coverage of the 2012 presidential election, Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times photographer Josh Haner had an epiphany: he discovered that video journalists had a major edge on him with their ability to stream live footage to control rooms via streaming backpacks. Using his technical know-how, mixed with that of the Times’, Haner decided to even the playing field by adapting streaming technology into a similar device made for photographers.

Haner’s streaming backpack contains a battery-powered Linux-based computer that uses proprietary software (created by Times software engineer Ben Koski) to break down images, send them over four cellular modems though carriers AT&T and Verizon. Later, the images are recompiled, color corrected, and transmitted directly to the photographer’s editor. The backpack’s small computer can also run third-party routers that power its wireless modems.

According to Capital New York, the original prototype pack relied on two modems instead of four, which forced photographers to send caption info in a separate transmission. After further development and design changes, the backpack allowed shooters to attach audio tags to their images, rather than text, to add appropriate captions, and the backpack is able to live stream low-resolution images ready to be posted on the Web.

Weighing around 12.5 pounds and costing only $2,4oo to produce, this backpack has great potential not only in the realm of photojournalism, but amateur photography as well. Imagine being able to instantly send out your images with all the necessary info without having to spend a lot of time at your computer. News photographers aren’t the only ones with a sense of urgency in regards to their work, and in today’s wireless world where speed is key, Haner’s backpack could help a lot people – depending on how he chooses to market it. 

Haner is also working on a smaller version of the streaming technology that fits into a fanny pack. The 6.5-pound pack will only send high-resolution images, so the photographer will have to choose from their best shots to be wirelessly sent using the proprietary software created for the backpack. Haner told Capital New York that this fanny pack version costs between $1,600 and $1,800 to produce.

Currently, only two of these devices exist, and both are in the possession of the Times’ photo staff. Haner, who is also a senior editor of photo technology at NYT, is developing another remote streaming device to aid the rest of his newsroom.

 (Via Pop Photo)

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