One of the questions that has populated our social feeds the past few weeks appears to be something many are seeing around the world: poles that hold people’s smartphones that allow them to take a self-portraits from afar. But the selfie stick is more than just a pole, and there’s a better way to use it than what we’re seeing.
It has to be one of 2014’s craziest concepts, and it’s one that raises a question of just how much we like to take photos of ourselves (and a deeper question underneath that one), but it’s a concept that has permeated stores and the online world with plenty of clones.
It’s called the “selfie stick” or “selfie pole” and essentially, it’s a small handheld monopod with a smartphone clamp at one end to hold your smartphone.
We first started seeing the selfie stick used with GoPro cameras earlier in the year, and now with smartphone clamps available that support more than just the smaller iPhones, we’re seeing this concept make its way out to phones.
But it’s more than just a stick with a smartphone clamp, as you need to be able to trigger the shot, and for that, you need a button.
At least one, anyway.
As a result, selfie sticks include a button and some Bluetooth connectivity, charging like most other Bluetooth gadgets over microUSB and connecting to a smartphone by telling the handset that it is an input device, generally masquerading as a new volume button that also selects things.
For many smartphone cameras, the volume rocker is a camera button, or can be setup like that (changed in the settings of the software), and when the phone is paired with this specific external Bluetooth-controlled button, you can fire the camera remotely.
You still have to be in the app to do this, but if the camera is set to use volume as the shutter, you can take pictures without actually touching the phone.
And that’s kind of the point of the selfie stick: you’re not holding the phone, but are clamping it in a makeshift tripod-head and holding it far from your body, so you obviously won’t be able to reach the screen or a shutter button, so you need something else to do that for you, which is what the button is for.
But we’re not sure everyone is holding the selfie stick right to begin with.
The majority of people we’ve seen with the selfie stick have been holding the gadget with the screen aimed at them, making it possible for themselves to see how they’re positioned in the shot as they take the shot.