When it comes to storing digital photos, looking for one particular image amidst potential tens of thousands can be daunting. A (currently crowdfunding) personal cloud, Monument, may be able to assist casual and professional shutterbugs alike, as it's designed with advanced algorithms that store, organize, and analyze photos and videos for simple, secure access.

While online cloud services that offer to keep all images/videos taken by your connected mobile devices are convenient, there is a limit to the amount of free space provided before subscription tiers need to be considered (Google Photos is a notable exception, as long as you don't mind downsampling of your highest-resolution photos). The Monument personal cloud device is designed to allow full, flexible control over personal storage by letting users plug in their own external USB drives. Increasing available space is then as easy as swapping in a higher-capacity drive.

Monument has built-in Wi-Fi that connects to home networks, while granting cloud access via the mobile app for iOS and Android. Users can then transfer and set up automatic syncing of photos/videos taken by smartphones and tablets.

The app also provides options to browse, search and share without the need for a computer. An SD card slot, located on the front of Monument, makes importing from non-wireless sources (e.g. digital cameras) more efficient. Viewing content on the big screen is possible through an HDMI connection.

When it comes to photo management, users can browse by date/time, location, and cameras. But it's Monument's artificial intelligence that could set it apart from some other storage services. Advanced algorithms are designed to evaluate scenes in photos and automatically classify each for easier searching. Users can enter in keywords, such as beach, mountains, snow, or indoor, to narrow down the results, or sort people in your photos by facial recognition.

Like with other private clouds, those concerned about privacy and safety will appreciate how Monument stores everything locally at home. One doesn't have to wonder where in the world their data is being kept or if companies may be gathering personal information or statistics. Users can choose to protect photo collections by mirroring two drives in RAID-1 configuration, local backup to a NAS (network attached storage) or by remotely backing up to another Monument device over a secure internet connection.

Monument is currently funding on Kickstarter, having raised 265 percent of its US$60,000 goal in 13 days, with another 28 days left to go. A pledge of $109 rewards you with one device (storage drive not included), saving $100 off the expected retail price.

The team recently exhibited the final Monument prototype at CES 2016 and is set for tooling and production. If everything goes according to plan, backers can expect shipments of Monument to start sometime this September.

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