You may remember hearing about photographer John Heller’s ordeal recovering his $9,000 worth of camera gear this summer. The thieves unwittingly uploaded photos taken with the stolen equipment, including a Nikon D3, to sites popular photo sharing platforms—which is just what GadgetTrak wanted.
The site was then testing a beta application that would scan photo-sharing sites like Flickr and 500px for images uploaded from potentially stolen equipment. The meta-data on these images reveals camera serial numbers, so owners missing their gear can easily identify if it’s theirs or not.
It was a dream come true for Heller, and now GadgetTrak is releasing the technology to consumers. Called CameraTrace, the service basically creates an identity for your camera so that in the cause it’s taken it can easily search the worldwide Web for any image taken with the device. Users pay a one-time $10 fee per camera, which comes with a lost-and-found tag that good Samaritans can use to trace back to owners who have merely misplaced their cameras.
In the case your device has been stolen, however, you will use the system to file a police report. GadgetTrak will even take up your case and speak with local enforcement if you choose. Basically you’ll have a helping hand through the painstaking process of getting your equipment back.
According to GadgetTrak, the CPUsage platform behind CameraTrace is able to thoroughly assess where your device has gone via uploaded images. It’s also allegedly able to identify more than 300 different “high-end camera models” from various brand names.
Serious photographers will get an added benefit from using CameraTrace. The site also protects your copyrighted photos via its image monitoring service, which scans social sites to see if anyone out there is using your work without permissions—and pointing you in their direction.
Compared to how much photographers are willing to shell out on their gear, $10 is chump change. And given the popularity of the photo-sharing sites, this could be a very effective form of insurance.