Digital Camera Patent Abstract
A digital camera for capturing images and for adding personal image
metadata labels to the captured images, including an image sensor
for capturing a plurality of images; an analog-to-digital converter
for digitizing the plurality of captured images, from the image
sensor, to produce a plurality of captured digital images. Also,
included in the digital camera is a memory location for storing
the plurality of captured digital images; a display coupled to the
memory location for displaying at least one of the plurality of
captured digital images. The digital camera has a user control for
selecting a personal image metadata label which corresponds to an
emotional or aesthetic category as judged by a user; and a processor
responsive to the user control for associating the personal image
metadata label with the at least one of the plurality of displayed
captured digital image.
Digital Camera Patent Claims
What is claimed is:
1. A digital camera for capturing images and for associating metadata
with the captured images, comprising: (a) an image sensor for capturing
a plurality of images; (b) an analog-to-digital converter for digitizing
the plurality of captured images, from the image sensor, to produce
a plurality of captured digital images; (c) a memory location for
storing the plurality of captured digital images; (d) a display
coupled to the memory location for displaying at least one of the
plurality of captured digital images; (e) a user control for identifying
one of the plurality of stored captured digital images as a user's
selected best image; and (f) a processor responsive to the user
control for associating the metadata with one of the plurality of
displayed captured digital images, wherein the metadata is a user
image value according to a multipoint scale, and wherein a maximum
point value is used to identify the user's selected best image.
2. The digital camera claimed in claim 1, wherein the processor
causes an icon to be displayed along with the at least one of the
plurality of displayed captured digital images only when the metadata
indicates the user's selected best image.
3. The digital camera claimed in claim 1, wherein the processor
causes text to be displayed indicating that one of the plurality
of stored captured digital images is a user's selected best image
when the associated metadata is the maximum point value.
4. The digital camera claimed in claim 1, further including a plurality
of user controls to also enable a plurality of personal image metadata
labels to be selected.
5. The digital camera claimed in claim 1, wherein the processor
enables storage of the metadata and the captured digital image in
the memory location hence forming a digital image file.
6. The digital camera claimed in claim 5, wherein the processor
also stores the in a database separate from the digital image file.
7. A method of using a digital camera to associate metadata with
captured images, comprising the steps of: (a) capturing a plurality
of images with an image sensor; (b) digitizing the plurality of
captured images, from the image sensor, with an analog-to-digital
converter to produce a plurality of captured digital images; (c)
storing the plurality of captured digital images in a memory location;
(d) displaying at least one of the plurality of captured digital
images on a display coupled to the memory location; (e) employing
a user control to selectively identify one of the plurality of captured
digital images as a user's selected best image; and (f) associating
the metadata with one of the plurality of displayed captured digital
images by employing a processor responsive to the user control,
wherein the metadata is a user image value according to a multipoint
scale, and wherein a maximum point value is also used to identify
the user's selected best image.
8. The method claimed in claim 7, wherein the processor causes
an icon to be displayed along with the at least one of the plurality
of displayed captured digital images only when the metadata indicates
the user's selected best image.
9. The method claimed in claim 7, wherein the processor causes
text to be displayed indicating that one of the plurality of stored
captured digital images is a user's selected best image when the
associated metadata is the maximum point value.
10. The method claimed in claim 7, further comprising the step
of also selecting a plurality of personal image metadata labels
utilizing a plurality of user controls.
11. The method claimed in claim 7, further comprising the step
of storing the metadata and the captured digital images in the memory
12. The method claimed in claim 7, further comprising the step
of storing the metadata in a database, separate from the captured
Digital Camera Patent Description
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
The invention relates generally to the field of photography, and
in particular to collecting and categorizing images. More specifically,
the invention relates to a personal database of metadata labels
constructed prior to image capture.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
Image metadata is well-known, and is useful in retrieving desired
images from a large collection of images. The Kodak DC265.TM. camera
formulates many metadata items, such as the date/time, camera lens
setting, scene light level, etc. when the picture is taken, and
stores this metadata within the Exif/JPEG digital image file. Unfortunately,
this metadata cannot identify the subject of the photo, or whether
this particular photo is one of the user's "favorite"
photos. It is this latter type of information that is most useful
in quickly and easily retrieving desired images from a large collection
Many software applications allow the user to manually type in text,
such as a "picture title" or "picture description,"
and store this text within the image file. This could be used to
add a description including the people, events, or type of photo.
The text strings from all images in the database could later be
searched to retrieve images having the names, events, etc. of interest.
Unfortunately, this is an extremely tedious method of adding metadata.
In addition, since the user may type in different text to describe
the same item (e.g. Matt, Matthew, or X-mas, Christmas) the database
may not contain consistent names for the same picture categories.
Some particular software applications, such as Image Expert 2000.TM.
developed by Sierra Imaging Inc., allow the user to add keywords
to captured images. The keywords are categorized as "location,"
"occasion," "photographer," and "subject."
While viewing a group of thumbnail images, a user can create keywords
in these categories and assign the keywords to one or more captured
images by selecting the thumbnails and keywords. The keywords from
all images in the database can later be searched to retrieve images
that were assigned to those particular keywords.
Unfortunately, these conventional software applications make it
difficult for an untrained consumer to categorize their images in
a way that enables them to later locate their favorite images of
a selected subject. What is needed is a simple, fast method for
the user to add emotional or aesthetic based type metadata to a
collection of images, and to use this emotional or aesthetic based
metadata to retrieve images of interest.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The present invention is directed to overcoming one or more of
the problems set forth above. Briefly summarized, according to one
aspect of the present invention there is a method of using a digital
camera to assign personal image metadata labels to captured images
including the steps of: capturing a plurality of images with an
image sensor; digitizing the plurality of captured images, from
the image sensor, with an analog-to-digital converter to produce
a plurality of captured digital images; storing the plurality of
captured digital images in a memory location; displaying at least
one of the plurality of captured digital images on a display coupled
to the memory location; selectively assigning a personal image metadata
label, employing a user control, which corresponds to an emotional
or aesthetic category, as judged by a user; and associating the
personal image metadata label with the at least one displayed captured
digital image by employing a processor responsive to the user control.
The present invention has the advantage of allowing a user to preemptively
categorize photos that are particularly noteworthy to the user.
The application can display a menu of metadata labels, including
labels such as "favorite photos," "funny photos,"
etc. The metadata labels, or alternatively metadata label identifier
codes, are then stored within the image files and/or in a database
separate from the image files, but referencing the appropriate images.
At a later time, when the database contains hundreds or thousands
of images, several metadata labels can be selected together to easily
retrieve images. For example, by selecting the categories "Matthew,"
Matthew's Birthday,"and "favorite photos," the user
can get a thumbnail display or slideshow of the "best"
photos of Matthew taken on his birthday every year, rather than
searching through a collection of hundreds or thousands of captured
digital image files.
These and other aspects, objects, features and advantages of the
present invention will be more clearly understood and appreciated
from a review of the following detailed description of the preferred
embodiments and appended claims, and by reference to the accompanying
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
FIG. 1 is an example flow diagram of the method of this invention;
FIG. 2 shows a block diagram of a system that implements this invention;
FIG. 3 shows an example of a main user interface screen;
FIG. 4 shows an example menu for selecting labels;
FIG. 5 shows an example of the main user interface screen as labels
FIG. 6 shows a user interface screen displaying a selected picture
with its corresponding metadata labels; and
FIG. 7 shows the user interface screen displaying an image retrieved
using selected labels.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
Referring to FIG. 1 a flow diagram of an exemplary embodiment of
the present invention for adding personalized metadata to a collection
of images is shown. Operation block 100 discloses a user inserting
an auto-launch CD-ROM into a CD-ROM drive of a computer in order
to install software that implements the method of the present invention.
Operation 110 discloses prompting a user to create "labels"
for their pictures (i.e., images), prior to capturing any images,
for the purpose of locating (i.e., retrieving) the pictures at a
later time. An inquiry operation 120 asks the user to respond affirmatively
or negatively. Should the user respond negatively, all operations
cease. In contrast, should the user respond affirmatively, she would
be prompted to enter nicknames of her family and friends by operation
130. As will be described later, the user entries are prompted by
questions including "please enter first names of family members
and pets" and "please enter nicknames of friends you often
photograph." Subsequently, the user is prompted to either select
or enter picture classifications, locations, and subjects according
to operation 140. As will be described later, the user entries concerning
classifications are prompted by questions concerning the types of
situations and occasions that they generally photograph.
Operation 150 causes user labels to be stored in a metadata database.
This completes the process of developing the database of pre-assigned
metadata labels personalized for the particular user. Some time
later (e.g., immediately thereafter, or several hours later, or
several days later), a user can capture one or several images and
transfer the captured images to the computer in operation 160. Upon
transfer of the images in operation 160, operation 170 causes thumbnail
images to be displayed.
Operation 175 queries the user whether more labels should be added
to the images. Simultaneously, operation 200 adds a selected label
to metadata for all selected images. Operation 180 receives an affirmative
response from the query of operation 175. The user selects one,
many, or all of the images from the thumbnail display in operation
180. A final query operation 185 asks whether the label is part
of a pull down menu. An affirmative response is an input for operation
190, wherein the user selects a label by clicking on a menu item.
Next, operation 200 adds the selected label to metadata for all
selected images. A negative response to the final query operation
185 causes operation 195 to prompt the user to enter in a label,
which is then added to the metadata database.
A negative response to query operation 175 causes operation 210
to store metadata within each image file and in a separate database.
Some time later (e.g., immediately thereafter, or many days later,
or many years later), operation 220 prompts the user to select labels
in order to retrieve images of interest. In the final operation
230, images with corresponding labels are retrieved and viewed as
thumbnails (so that the corresponding full resolution images can
be selectively printed, transmitted, etc.) or may be viewed as a
FIG. 2 is a block diagram of a digital imaging system useful in
practicing the method of the present invention, which enables users
to easily customize the interface and features of their digital
camera prior to taking pictures. The digital imaging system includes
a digital camera 10 which is supplied along with metadata categorization
software provided on a compact disc 32, CD-ROM 42, a floppy disk
34, or other digital media. The digital imaging system also includes
a host computer 40, such as a Dell Dimension XPS M200.TM., and a
Network Service Provider 70. In accordance with one preferred embodiment
of the present invention, metadata categorization software is executed
external to the digital camera 10, and is executed on the host computer
40. However, the metadata categorization software can alternatively
be executed by an Internet appliance, set-top box, or other external
device, or can be executed internal to the digital camera 10, provided
that the digital camera has an appropriate user interface for displaying
and responding to questions. The metadata categorization software
can be provided along with the camera customization software described
in commonly-assigned U.S. Ser. No. 09/549,356 filed Apr. 14, 2000
by Prabhu et al., titled "Method And Apparatus For Providing
A User Customizable Digital Camera."
The digital camera 10 produces digital images that are stored on
a removable memory card 30 or other digital storage device. The
digital camera 10 has a zoom lens 12 that is controlled by a zoom
switch (not shown) having telephoto (T) and wide angle (W) positions,
and having zoom and focus motor drives (not shown), and an adjustable
aperture and shutter (not shown) for focusing light from a scene
onto an image sensor 14. The image sensor 14 can be, for example,
a single-chip, colored, charge-coupled device (CCD), using the well-known
Bayer color filter pattern. When the user depresses a shutter button
(not shown), the analog output signal from the image sensor 14 is
converted to digital data by an analog-to-digital (A/D) converter
16. The digital data is processed by a processor 18 that is controlled
by firmware stored in a reprogram able memory, such as a Flash EPROM
The processed digital image file is provided to a digital storage
interface 20 which stores the digital image file on the removable
memory card 30, or on another type of digital memory device, such
as a floppy disk or magnetic hard drive, or smart media. The removable
memory card 30, which is well-known to those skilled in the art,
can include, for example, a memory card adapted to the PCMCIA card
interface standard, as described in the PC Card Standard, Release
2.0, published by the Personal Computer Memory Card International
Association, Sunnyvale, Calif., September 1991. The removable memory
card 30 can also be adapted to the Compact Flash interface standard,
such as described in the CompactFlash Specification Version 1.4,
published by the CompactFlash Association, Palo Alto, Calif., July
1999, or to other memory devices such as the well-known SSFDC (Solid
State Floppy Disc Card) or Memory Stick formats.
The processor 18 performs color interpolation followed by color
and tone correction, in order to produce rendered sRGB image data.
The processor 18 can include internal buffer memory to store a portion
of the image, or to store one or more entire images. Alternatively,
the processor 18 can use a separate external memory, such as DRAM
memory 19. The rendered sRGB image data is then JPEG compressed
and stored as a JPEG image file on the removable memory card 30.
The processor 18 also provides a lower resolution or "thumbnail"
size image data to a color image display 22, such as a color liquid
crystal display (LCD), which displays the captured image for the
user to review. The low-resolution image can be created as described
in commonly-assigned U.S. Pat. No. 5,164,831 issued Nov. 17, 1992
to Kuchta et al., titled "Electronic Still Camera Providing
Multi-Format Storage Of Full And Reduced Resolution Images."
Several camera user buttons 24 are used to control the digital camera
10. The camera user buttons 24, together with text and icons displayed
on the image display 22 (not shown), form the camera graphical user
interface (GUI). This GUI is controlled by the user interface portion
of the firmware stored in the Flash EPROM 28.
The digital camera 10 determines various metadata items, such as
the date/time the picture was taken from the real-time clock (not
shown) provided by the processor 18, the camera lens settings, scene
light level, etc. These metadata items are stored within a so-called
"Exif" image file as defined in "Digital Still Camera
Image File Format (Exif)" version 2.1, June 1998 by the Japan
Electronics Industries Development Association (JEIDA), Tokyo, Japan.
This format includes an Exif application segment that stores particular
image metadata, for example the date and time the picture was captured,
the lens f/number and other camera settings. It can also include
user-selected custom metadata labels, as will be described later.
After a series of images has been taken by the digital camera 10
and stored on the removable memory card 30, the removable memory
card 30 can be inserted into a memory card reader 48 communicatively
attached to, as shown, or incorporated within (not shown) the host
computer 40. Alternatively, an interface cable 36 can be used to
connect between a host interface 26 in the digital camera 10 and
a camera interface 46 which may be external or internal to the host
computer 40. The interface cable 36 may conform to, for example,
the well-known universal serial bus (USB) interface specification.
The captured images from the digital camera 10 can be downloaded
to the host computer 40 and stored on a hard drive 56 under the
control of a central processing unit (CPU) 50. The CPU 50 is coupled
to a display monitor 52, which is used to view the images, and a
keyboard 54. A mouse 55 permits the user to readily communicate
with the CPU 50. The CPU 50 communicates with a CD Rom drive 42
in order to read the information on the compact disc 32. The CPU
50 also communicates with the floppy disk drive 44 in order to read
the information on the floppy disk 34. The CPU 50 communicates with
a local printer 58, such as an Epson Stylus Photo 700.TM. printer,
which produces hard copy prints of the images that were captured
by the digital camera 10.
The digital camera 10 that is supplied to a user includes firmware
that provides normal camera features and remains stored in the Flash
EPROM 28. In an alternative embodiment of the present invention,
the user can customize the firmware stored in Flash EPROM 28 of
the digital camera 10 using the metadata categorization software
provided with the digital camera 10, so that the metadata labels
entered or selected by the user in blocks 130 and 140 of FIG. 1
are stored in Flash EPROM 28. The color LCD image display 22 and
user buttons 24 are then used to assign metadata labels to images,
substituting for blocks 175 through 210 of FIG. 1, as the images
are captured or reviewed using the digital camera 10. The CPU 50
uses the metadata categorization software in accordance with the
present invention to provide custom metadata labels within the firmware
code that is downloaded under the control of processor 18 of the
digital camera 10 via the removable memory card 30, and stored in
the Flash EPROM 28, as described in commonly-assigned U.S. Pat.
No. 5,477,264 issued Dec. 19, 1995 to Sarbadhikari et al. titled
"Electronic Imaging System Using a Removable Software-Enhanced
Storage Device," or via the interface cable 36 as described
in commonly-assigned U.S. Pat. No. 5,734,425 issued Mar. 31, 1998
to Takizawa et al. titled "Electronic Still Camera With Replaceable
Digital Processing Program."
The metadata categorization software provided on the compact disc
32 or the floppy disk 34 can also include digital image application
software, such as the Picture Easy.TM. version 3.1 software developed
by the Eastman Kodak Company. Alternatively, instead of being provided
on a compact disc or floppy disk 34, the metadata categorization
software could be downloaded from the Network Service Provider 70
via a modem 60. The modem 60 communicates via a channel 64 with
another modem 72 at the Network Service Provider 70, which is connected
to a computer 74, and a customer image storage device or system
76. A billing system 78 can charge the user (e.g., via a credit
card) for downloading the metadata categorization software. The
computer 74 operates an application software database 80 that can
also provide input to one or more hardcopy printers 82 for subsequent
printing of images captured by the digital camera 10.
As shown in block 100 of FIG. 1, the user begins by installing
the program on her computer. The program may be provided on a compact
disc 32 which may be a Photo CD also having digitized images (so
that the digital camera 10 is not needed), or can alternatively
be included as part of application software provided with the digital
camera 10. As part of this installation process, the user is prompted
to answer a number of questions (blocks 130 and 140 of FIG. 1) that
produce a personalized database of metadata "labels."
At least some of the database of metadata labels is derived from
the user's emotional judgment about the content of the images that
she usually captures. The present invention allows a user to develop
emotional or aesthetic based metadata that is useful in categorizing
several of the user's captured images according to the user's own
emotional or aesthetic judgment regarding the captured images.
The emotional or aesthetic based metadata is derived from a user
answering queries about her family, friends, and her aesthetic judgment
of the typical images that she captures. Consequently, the user
is able to preemptively categorize "how much they like a picture"
by using emotional or aesthetic based metadata labels such as "favorite
photos," "best photos," "cute photos,"
"important moments," or "funny photos." These
metadata labels are then stored within the captured image files
and/or in a database that may be separate from the image files,
but still references the appropriate categorized images. Labels
assigned to each digital image file may be stored as ASCII text
strings or as other types of metadata label identifiers, such as
digital code values assigned to a particular metadata label. For
example, a user's "best" pictures may be stored with the
ASCII text "BEST," for "user image value," or
may be stored with the digital value "10" (using a 10
point scale where 1 is lowest and 10 is highest) as the metadata
label identifier in the "user image value" field. After
describing how the answers will be used, the following types of
personal queries may be asked: Type the nicknames of immediate family
members Type the nicknames of friends you often photograph Are these
good ways to classify your pictures? (select, deselect, or add)
Best photos, funny photos, cute photos, important moments Where
do you often take pictures (select, deselect, or add) Our house,
our yard, (friend's name's house), zoo, ______ park, etc. What type
of pictures do you often take (select, deselect, or add) Portraits,
landscapes, flower & plants, sports
In block 150, the user's responses to these questions are used
to configure and store a database of pre-assigned metadata labels
for the user in a digital memory, normally hard drive 56 of computer
In block 160, the user then proceeds to use the metadata categorization
software to display images either stored in or downloaded from the
digital camera 10, or provided from a compact disc 32, or another
image source. For example, in block 130 to 140 of FIG. 1, the user
may develop metadata labels that relates to family members, that
family member's birthday party, as well as emotional metadata labels,
for example images that the user `feels` are her favorite photos.
For an explicit example, a user selects categories labeled "Matt,"
"Matt's Birthday," and "favorite photos." Adding
labels to the appropriate images as part of blocks 175 through 210
of FIG. 1 will enable the user to later (in blocks 220 through 230)
quickly and easily access a thumbnail display or slideshow of the
"best" photos featuring Matt taken on his birthday every
year that pictures were taken, rather than searching through a collection
of hundreds or thousands of captured digital image files taken over
As part of block 160, the images from the camera (or full size
or thumbnail size images from the compact disc) are transferred
to the computer hard drive 56. In block 170, the CPU 50, running
the metadata categorization software displays thumbnail size images
of each new downloaded picture on the computer monitor, as depicted
in FIG. 3, along with a message such as "Label your photos
now, so you can find them later." The user selects one, several,
or all of the thumbnail images by clicking on the images. The user
then selects, from a pull-down menu, a metadata category (e.g.,
"People--who's in the picture," "Subject--who's in
this picture," "Type--What type of picture is this?"
Then, for the selected category, they select one or more metadata
items using blocks 175 through 200 of FIG. 1. For example, if they
select "Subject--who's in this picture," the application
may display a menu listing "Ken, Susan, Matthew, JoAnn, etc."
and allow them to click on one or more names. If necessary, they
can type in new names (block 195 of FIG. 1), which are added to
future display lists. When the user selects "Type--what type
of picture is this," the application displays a menu including
a number of emotional or aesthetic categories such as "best
photos," "funny photos," etc."
Example display and pull-down menu embodiments for blocks 175 through
200 of FIG. 1 are shown in FIGS. 3 6. Referring to FIG. 3, a "Main
User Interface Screen" 3000 includes the following toolbar
buttons: an "Add Label" 3010, a "Show labels"
3020, a "Find with Labels" 3030, a "Slide Show"
3040, and a "Transfer Pictures" 3050. The main user interface
screen 3000 has a slider or scrollbar 3060 for scrolling up and
down through a group of thumbnail images. Many thumbnail images
3070 (e.g. 16 thumbnail images) may be displayed for the user to
view and choose.
The interface screen shown in FIG. 3 provides an efficient way
for the user to enter metadata for images, a "group" of
thumbnails at a time. A typical digital memory card 30 can contain
for example, 24 pictures taken over 3 "picture taking sessions."
For example, over the course of a weekend, the group of images on
the digital memory card 30 may include 12 shots taken at Matthew's
birthday party at home, 8 shots taken during a visit to the zoo,
and 4 taken during a stop at JoAnn's house. The thumbnail images
3070 shown in FIG. 3 are 16 images from this set, corresponding
to the position of scroll bar 3060 within the set of images. The
thumbnail images 3070 are provided using the thumbnail image data
stored within the Exif image file. The date each image was taken
is also read from the Exif image file metadata and displayed beneath
each image. In order to label images, the user selects the "add
label" icon 3010.
Referring to FIG. 4, a screen entitled, "Menu for Selecting
Labels" 4000 lists an example of pre-assigned metadata labels
configured in blocks 130 to 150 of FIG. 1, which can now be selected
by the user in block 190 of FIG. 1. The list includes the following
menu selections: an "Add Label" 4010, a "People"
4020, a "Places" 4030, a "Subjects" 4040, a
"Types" 4050. At the next level, the selections correspond
with the user's input to the previous selections. For example, selection
4060 corresponds with the user's input to menu selection 4020 (e.g.
the list of family members and friends that are often photographed).
Selection 4070 corresponds to the user input for menu selection
4030. Selection 4080 corresponds to the user input for menu selection
4040. Selection 4090 corresponds to the user input for menu selection
4050. One of ordinary skill can envision further levels as well.
Referring to FIG. 5, a display screen 5000 showing how the "main
user interface screen labels are selected" is disclosed. A
user selects "Add Label" 3010, and uses the pull down
menu to select "People" 4020, whereby a second pull down
menu with the user's input 4060 is shown. The display includes a
scroll bar 3060 and several thumbnail images 3070 as well as icons
or text 5010 that indicate which of the thumbnail images 3070 have
associated metadata labels.
FIG. 6 displays a screen 6000 that depicts a selected picture 6020
with its associated metadata labels 6010. The current labels 6010
correspond to the labels selected during steps 175 through 200 of
FIG. 1. The selected picture 6020 includes the labels 6010 "Matthew"
(people), "Ken" (people), "Our backyard" (place),
"Flowers" (subjects) and "Best photos" (type).
In block 180, the user selects one or more thumbnail images using
the thumbnail images 3070. For example, the user can quickly highlight
the first 12 images, and then select (in block 190) Event.fwdarw.Matthew's
birthday to label all of these images using the list shown in FIG.
4, and proceed to highlight and label the other groups if they wish
(repeating blocks 175 through 200 of FIG. 1). As another example,
also shown specifically in FIG. 5, in block 180 of FIG. 1 the user
can highlight all the images on the roll with one click, deselect
those few that do not include Matthew, and then select People.fwdarw.Matthew
in block 190 to further label the appropriate images. As another
example, in block 180 the user can highlight the one or two of the
pictures they judge to be their very best images of the group, and
select Type.fwdarw.Best Photos in block 190. If an appropriate label
does not exist, the user can create a new label in block 195, which
is stored in the metadata label database for future use.
As labels are added to each image, graphics 6010 (or text) coded
to indicate the category of labels provided for the image, are positioned
in the corner of the corresponding thumbnail image display, as shown
in FIG. 6. When the "show labels" button 3020 is selected
by the user, the labels are displayed adjacent to the selected image,
so that it is apparent what labels have been applied to a particular
image, as shown in FIG. 6. In this mode, the user can also add additional
labels or change previous-applied labels for that particular image.
In block 210, the metadata text labels or other metadata label
identifiers are then stored within the image files and/or in a database
separate from the image files. At a later time, when the database
contains hundreds or thousands of images, the metadata can be used
to easily retrieve images. FIG. 7 discloses a "Find with Labels"
feature 7000 that allows a user to locate images using the pre-assigned
metadata labels configured in blocks 130 through 150 of FIG. 1 and
assigned to particular images in blocks 175 through 210 of FIG.
1. Toolbar button "Find with labels" 3030 is selected.
The user then selects, from the menu depicted in FIG. 4, labels
of interest, for example the labels "Matthew," "Zoo,"
and "Best photos" 7020. A scroll bar 3060 allows a user
to scroll the images 7040 found by the label search. In the example
of FIG. 7, by selecting the categories "Matthew," "Zoo,"
and "Best photos," the user can get a thumbnail display
or slideshow of the best photos featuring Matt taken on his birthday
over the course of several years, rather than searching through
a collection of hundreds or thousands of digital image files stored
on hard drive 56.
In an alternative embodiment, blocks 170 through 210 of FIG. 1
are implemented in the digital camera 10 of FIG. 2. In another alternative
embodiment, the user identifies only certain types of images, such
as favorite images, important events, or funny images, when the
images are captured on digital camera 10, by selecting the appropriate
labels using user buttons 24 while reviewing captured image thumbnails
on the color LCD image display 22. The metadata labels associated
with these emotional or aesthetic judgments are then stored within
the Exif image files. Additional metadata labels can optionally
be added when these images are transferred from the digital camera
10 to the computer 40, as described earlier in relation to blocks
170 through 210 of FIG. 1.
Computer program products, such as readable storage medium, can
be used to store the customization software, and also the desired
firmware components in accordance with the present invention. The
readable storage medium can be a magnetic storage media, such as
a magnetic disk (such as a floppy disk) or magnetic tape; optical
storage media, such as an optical disk, an optical tape, or a machine
readable bar code; solid state electronic storage devices, such
as a random access memory (RAM) or a read only memory (ROM); or
any other physical device or medium employed to store computer programs.
The invention has been described with reference to a preferred
embodiment. However, it will be appreciated that variations and
modifications can be effected by a person of ordinary skill in the
art without departing from the scope of the invention.
TABLE-US-00001 PARTS LIST 10 digital camera 12 lens 14 CCD image
sensor 16 A/D converter 18 processor 19 DRAM memory 20 digital storage
interface 22 color LCD image display 24 user buttons 26 host interface
28 flash EPROM 30 memory card 32 compact disc 34 floppy disk 36
interface 40 host computer 42 CD-ROM drive 44 floppy disk drive
46 camera interface 48 memory card reader 50 CPU 52 display monitor
54 keyboard 55 mouse 56 hard drive 58 local printer 60 modem 64
channel 70 network service provider 72 modem 74 computer 76 customer
image storage 78 billing system 80 application software database
82 printer 100 autolaunch operation 110 label query operation 120
user response 130 nickname operation 140 picture classification
operation 150 label storage operation 160 image capture operation
170 image display operation 175 additional label query 180 image
selection operation 185 menu query 190 label selection operation
195 metadata database input operation 200 label and metadata match
operation 210 image-associated metadata storage operation 220 label
selection operation 230 image viewing operation 3000 Main User Interface
Screen 3010 Add label toolbar button 3020 Show labels toolbar button
3030 Find with labels toolbar button 3040 slide show toolbar button
3050 transfer pictures toolbar button 3060 scroll bar toolbar button
3070 thumbnail images 4000 Menu for selecting labels 4010 add label
toolbar button 4020 people selection 4030 places selection 4040
subject selection 4050 types selection 4060 user input associated
people selection 4070 user input associated places selection 4080
user input associated subjects selection 4090 user input associated
types selection 5000 screen for how "Main User Interface labels
are selected" 5010 metadata label icon 6000 screen for "Show
Picture Labels" 6010 current picture labels displayed 6020
associated thumbnail image 7000 screen for "Find with Labels"
7020 user selected labels 7040 label search images