Long live cottage industry

Robert Benson isn’t an engineer, and (at least to my knowledge) he doesn’t have a degree in business. He’s a photojournalist, and an accomplished one at that. As a freelancer, he’s been hired by the likes of ESPN, Inc. Magazine, USA Today and Sports Illustrated – just to name a few.

But it isn’t Robert’s great images that mark his entry into America’s long history of innovation via “cottage industry” – it’s a creation he calls his long-range wireless camera triggering device. With a printed circuit board, some components, some cables and a pair of inexpensive two-way radios, Robert has created a way to release the shutter of his pro-SLR cameras from miles away.

(Photo by Robert Benson)
(Photo by Robert Benson)

Taking his place in a long (and, to those sharing my geek leanings, regal) line of basement experimenters, backyard mechanics and soldering iron jockeys before him, Robert didn’t just make one copy of his invention and call it good. Nope – you can buy your own, too. For $90, it comes fully assembled, so all that’s left to do is add the two-way radios of your choice.

Seeing inventions like Robert Benson’s wireless camera trigger means a lot to me – because it’s a clear indicator that the spirit of American tinkering is alive and well, and producing amazing gadgets that interact with our ever-more-complex world. And seeing Rob Galbraith report that Robert has a 3-week backlog of orders means a lot to me too – because it means that someone co-opting the family dinner table as a production line can still do so successfully, perhaps now more than ever with the Internet as an enabler. The long string of comments left on Robert’s blog about the camera triggering system speaks volumes, too: it says that people the world over, despite being barraged with sleek, sexy technology at every turn, still recognize the value of good old home-grown ingenuity.

Bravo, Mr. Benson! May your soldering iron never stand idle, and may your new invention find favor the world over…

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