Windows 10 IoT Core Time-Lapse Camera Azure Storage

After building a time lapse camera application for Windows 10 IoT Core which stored the images locally I figured a version which uploaded the images to Azure storage might be useful as well.

This allowed for significantly more storage and it would be easier to process the images with Azure Media services or custom applications like my simple emailer.

Time-lapse camera setup

The application captures images with a configurable period after configurable start-up delay. The container and folder where the current and historic images are stored is configurable and the images can optionally be in monthly, daily, hourly etc. folders.

{
  "AzureStorageConnectionString": "",
  "AzureContainerNameFormatLatest": "Current",
  "AzureImageFilenameFormatLatest": "{0}.jpg",
  "AzureContainerNameFormatHistory": "Historic",
  "AzureImageFilenameFormatHistory": "{0}/{2:yyMMddHHmmss}.jpg",
  "ImageUpdateDueSeconds": 30,
  "ImageUpdatePeriodSeconds": 300
} 

With the above setup I have a folder for each device in the historic fiolder and the most recent image e.g. “seeedRPIBaseHat.jpg” image in the current folder. The file and folder names are assembled with a parameterised string.format

  • {0} machine name
  • {1} Device MAC Address
  • {2} Current time

Pay attention to your container\file name formatting I was tripped up by

  • mm – minutes vs. MM – months
  • hh – 12 hour clock vs. HH -24 hour clock

With 12 images every hour

The application logs events on start-up and every time a picture is taken

Windows 10 IoT Core device ETW Logging

After running the installer (available from GitHub) the application will create a default configuration file in

User Folders\LocalAppData\PhotoTimerTriggerAzureStorage-uwp_1.0.0.0_arm__nmn3tag1rpsaw\ LocalState\

Which can be downloaded, modified then uploaded using the portal file explorer application. If you want to make the application run on device start-up the radio button below needs to be selected.

/*
    Copyright ® 2019 March devMobile Software, All Rights Reserved
 
    MIT License
…
*/
namespace devMobile.Windows10IotCore.IoT.PhotoTimerInputTriggerAzureStorage
{
	using System;
	using System.IO;
	using System.Diagnostics;
	using System.Linq;
	using System.Net.NetworkInformation;
	using System.Threading;

	using Microsoft.Extensions.Configuration;
	using Microsoft.WindowsAzure.Storage;
	using Microsoft.WindowsAzure.Storage.Blob;

	using Windows.ApplicationModel;
	using Windows.ApplicationModel.Background;
	using Windows.Foundation.Diagnostics;
	using Windows.Media.Capture;
	using Windows.Media.MediaProperties;
	using Windows.Storage;
	using Windows.System;

	public sealed class StartupTask : IBackgroundTask
	{
		private BackgroundTaskDeferral backgroundTaskDeferral = null;
		private readonly LoggingChannel logging = new LoggingChannel("devMobile Photo Timer Azure Storage", null, new Guid("4bd2826e-54a1-4ba9-bf63-92b73ea1ac4a"));
		private const string ConfigurationFilename = "appsettings.json";
		private Timer ImageUpdatetimer;
		private MediaCapture mediaCapture;
		private string deviceMacAddress;
		private string azureStorageConnectionString;
		private string azureStorageContainerNameLatestFormat;
		private string azureStorageimageFilenameLatestFormat;
		private string azureStorageContainerNameHistoryFormat;
		private string azureStorageImageFilenameHistoryFormat;
		private const string ImageFilenameLocal = "latest.jpg";
		private volatile bool cameraBusy = false;

		public void Run(IBackgroundTaskInstance taskInstance)
		{
			StorageFolder localFolder = ApplicationData.Current.LocalFolder;
			int imageUpdateDueSeconds;
			int imageUpdatePeriodSeconds;

			this.logging.LogEvent("Application starting");

			// Log the Application build, OS version information etc.
			LoggingFields startupInformation = new LoggingFields();
			startupInformation.AddString("Timezone", TimeZoneSettings.CurrentTimeZoneDisplayName);
			startupInformation.AddString("OSVersion", Environment.OSVersion.VersionString);
			startupInformation.AddString("MachineName", Environment.MachineName);

			// This is from the application manifest 
			Package package = Package.Current;
			PackageId packageId = package.Id;
			PackageVersion version = packageId.Version;
			startupInformation.AddString("ApplicationVersion", string.Format($"{version.Major}.{version.Minor}.{version.Build}.{version.Revision}"));

			// ethernet mac address
			deviceMacAddress = NetworkInterface.GetAllNetworkInterfaces()
				 .Where(i => i.NetworkInterfaceType.ToString().ToLower().Contains("ethernet"))
				 .FirstOrDefault()
				 ?.GetPhysicalAddress().ToString();

			// remove unsupported charachers from MacAddress
			deviceMacAddress = deviceMacAddress.Replace("-", "").Replace(" ", "").Replace(":", "");
			startupInformation.AddString("MacAddress", deviceMacAddress);

			try
			{
				// see if the configuration file is present if not copy minimal sample one from application directory
				if (localFolder.TryGetItemAsync(ConfigurationFilename).AsTask().Result == null)
				{
					StorageFile templateConfigurationfile = Package.Current.InstalledLocation.GetFileAsync(ConfigurationFilename).AsTask().Result;
					templateConfigurationfile.CopyAsync(localFolder, ConfigurationFilename).AsTask();

					this.logging.LogMessage("JSON configuration file missing, templated created", LoggingLevel.Warning);
					return;
				}

				IConfiguration configuration = new ConfigurationBuilder().AddJsonFile(Path.Combine(localFolder.Path, ConfigurationFilename), false, true).Build();

				azureStorageConnectionString = configuration.GetSection("AzureStorageConnectionString").Value;
				startupInformation.AddString("AzureStorageConnectionString", azureStorageConnectionString);

				azureStorageContainerNameLatestFormat = configuration.GetSection("AzureContainerNameFormatLatest").Value;
				startupInformation.AddString("ContainerNameLatestFormat", azureStorageContainerNameLatestFormat);

				azureStorageimageFilenameLatestFormat = configuration.GetSection("AzureImageFilenameFormatLatest").Value;
				startupInformation.AddString("ImageFilenameLatestFormat", azureStorageimageFilenameLatestFormat);

				azureStorageContainerNameHistoryFormat = configuration.GetSection("AzureContainerNameFormatHistory").Value;
				startupInformation.AddString("ContainerNameHistoryFormat", azureStorageContainerNameHistoryFormat);

				azureStorageImageFilenameHistoryFormat = configuration.GetSection("AzureImageFilenameFormatHistory").Value;
				startupInformation.AddString("ImageFilenameHistoryFormat", azureStorageImageFilenameHistoryFormat);

				imageUpdateDueSeconds = int.Parse(configuration.GetSection("ImageUpdateDueSeconds").Value);
				startupInformation.AddInt32("ImageUpdateDueSeconds", imageUpdateDueSeconds);

				imageUpdatePeriodSeconds = int.Parse(configuration.GetSection("ImageUpdatePeriodSeconds").Value);
				startupInformation.AddInt32("ImageUpdatePeriodSeconds", imageUpdatePeriodSeconds);
			}
			catch (Exception ex)
			{
				this.logging.LogMessage("JSON configuration file load or settings retrieval failed " + ex.Message, LoggingLevel.Error);
				return;
			}

			try
			{
				mediaCapture = new MediaCapture();
				mediaCapture.InitializeAsync().AsTask().Wait();
			}
			catch (Exception ex)
			{
				this.logging.LogMessage("Camera configuration failed " + ex.Message, LoggingLevel.Error);
				return;
			}

			ImageUpdatetimer = new Timer(ImageUpdateTimerCallback, null, new TimeSpan(0,0, imageUpdateDueSeconds), new TimeSpan(0, 0, imageUpdatePeriodSeconds));

			this.logging.LogEvent("Application started", startupInformation);

			//enable task to continue running in background
			backgroundTaskDeferral = taskInstance.GetDeferral();
		}

		private async void ImageUpdateTimerCallback(object state)
		{
			DateTime currentTime = DateTime.UtcNow;
			Debug.WriteLine($"{DateTime.UtcNow.ToLongTimeString()} Timer triggered");

			// Just incase - stop code being called while photo already in progress
			if (cameraBusy)
			{
				return;
			}
			cameraBusy = true;

			try
			{
				StorageFile photoFile = await KnownFolders.PicturesLibrary.CreateFileAsync(ImageFilenameLocal, CreationCollisionOption.ReplaceExisting);
				ImageEncodingProperties imageProperties = ImageEncodingProperties.CreateJpeg();
				await mediaCapture.CapturePhotoToStorageFileAsync(imageProperties, photoFile);

				string azureContainernameLatest = string.Format(azureStorageContainerNameLatestFormat, Environment.MachineName, deviceMacAddress, currentTime).ToLower();
				string azureFilenameLatest = string.Format(azureStorageimageFilenameLatestFormat, Environment.MachineName, deviceMacAddress, currentTime);
				string azureContainerNameHistory = string.Format(azureStorageContainerNameHistoryFormat, Environment.MachineName, deviceMacAddress, currentTime).ToLower();
				string azureFilenameHistory = string.Format(azureStorageImageFilenameHistoryFormat, Environment.MachineName.ToLower(), deviceMacAddress, currentTime);

				LoggingFields imageInformation = new LoggingFields();
				imageInformation.AddDateTime("TakenAtUTC", currentTime);
				imageInformation.AddString("LocalFilename", photoFile.Path);
				imageInformation.AddString("AzureContainerNameLatest", azureContainernameLatest);
				imageInformation.AddString("AzureFilenameLatest", azureFilenameLatest);
				imageInformation.AddString("AzureContainerNameHistory", azureContainerNameHistory);
				imageInformation.AddString("AzureFilenameHistory", azureFilenameHistory);
				this.logging.LogEvent("Saving image(s) to Azure storage", imageInformation);

				CloudStorageAccount storageAccount = CloudStorageAccount.Parse(azureStorageConnectionString);
				CloudBlobClient blobClient = storageAccount.CreateCloudBlobClient();

				// Update the latest image in storage
				if (!string.IsNullOrWhiteSpace(azureContainernameLatest) && !string.IsNullOrWhiteSpace(azureFilenameLatest))
				{
					CloudBlobContainer containerLatest = blobClient.GetContainerReference(azureContainernameLatest);
					await containerLatest.CreateIfNotExistsAsync();

					CloudBlockBlob blockBlobLatest = containerLatest.GetBlockBlobReference(azureFilenameLatest);
					await blockBlobLatest.UploadFromFileAsync(photoFile);

					this.logging.LogEvent("Image latest saved to Azure storage");
				}

				// Upload the historic image to storage
				if (!string.IsNullOrWhiteSpace(azureContainerNameHistory) && !string.IsNullOrWhiteSpace(azureFilenameHistory))
				{
					CloudBlobContainer containerHistory = blobClient.GetContainerReference(azureContainerNameHistory);
					await containerHistory.CreateIfNotExistsAsync();

					CloudBlockBlob blockBlob = containerHistory.GetBlockBlobReference(azureFilenameHistory);
					await blockBlob.UploadFromFileAsync(photoFile);

					this.logging.LogEvent("Image historic saved to Azure storage");
				}
			}
			catch (Exception ex)
			{
				this.logging.LogMessage("Camera photo save or upload failed " + ex.Message, LoggingLevel.Error);
			}
			finally
			{
				cameraBusy = false;
			}
		}
	}
}

The images in Azure Storage could then be assembled into a video using a tool like Time Lapse Creator or process with Azure Custom Vision Service.

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