Web Clicks: Odds & Ends in Imaging Technology

Web Clicks: Odds & Ends in Imaging Technology

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Computational Photography Progress
There are a lot of interesting goings-on in the point-and-shoot market, and this was evidenced on the show floor at the 2012 CES, as that category continues to battle the ever-evolving smartphone market. But let’s not dismiss what’s happening within the world of computational photography and the effect that technology will have on the digital imaging capture market moving forward.

Some major breakthroughs in both the sensor and optics markets have taken this category to new heights recently. Look no further than the Lytro (lytro.com) camera’s unconventional lens technology that allows for the refocusing of an image after it’s been captured. It will be interesting to see if and when Lytro can offer up this tech in a more “traditional” camera body and if they at some point will just license the tech to a real camera manufacturer. But alas, these guys are not the only company making noise on the computational photography front.

Tamaggo’s 360-Imager, while still a product in the developmental stages, is a stand-alone fisheye model that can capture 360º panoramic images with a 14MP sensor and 11-component lens. The camera actually allows for the capture of images in two modes: the user can hold it vertically for 360º shots or horizontally to capture wide-angle panoramas. The sample images we eyed were engaging (tamaggo.com) and the site offers a much deeper look at what the tech is capable of.

There is a lot happening within this category, including a camera that can spot a culprit by peeking around corners, another that might divulge the identity of an attacker by collecting information reflected in a victim’s eyes and a few that can turn anyone with a camera into a great photographer. Clearly a category that will take digital capture in some brave, new directions—and leave many of us who grew up with film photography scratching our heads in astonishment.

Sensor Statements
We had already informed you of Samsung’s recently announced 16 megapixel CMOS image sensor “designed for high-performance, advanced smartphones as well as digital still cameras and camcorders.” Well, you can also save a plate for Sony at this dinner table, as they too have announced a next-generation image sensor for smartphones. This one is a CMOS sensor that they claim will offer significantly better image quality with a smaller chip size. The battle for a larger slice of the market for sensors used in smartphones rages on.

FB Do’s & Don’ts
Although I know many of you have embraced the power of Facebook and what a presence on the iconic social network can do, there are still lots of retailers who aren’t really involved in FB in the right way.

First, a few numbers to grab your attention: Worldwide ad revenues for Facebook will rise 104% this year to $3.80 billion, according to market research firm eMarketer. In the United States ad revenues were set to rise from $1.21 billion to $2.01 billion by the close of 2011.

We grabbed a few quick tips from the National Retail Federation (NFR) on how retailers can maximize their returns from Facebook. First and foremost is when and how often you should post. Research shows the largest number of consumers engage with brands that post on Wednesdays and brands that share their messages in the less busy early morning and later evening hours win an additional boost. The other key to FB use for retailers is only posting when you have something relevant to post. Many retailers are posting items just for the sake of volume and, as a result, are turning their followers off.

Last point on Facebook: a recently released study from research firm Social Commerce claims that four out of 10 shoppers say they follow retailers on social networking sites for information on contests, giveaways and events.

Time-Lapse Face Dances
Have you seen the latest photo app? This one is designed to record your face over time and then create a time-lapse video of it, so for .99 cents you can marvel at the ravages of aging on your pristine visage.

The app is simple: take a photo of yourself every day with your cameraphone (you can program the app to remind you up to three times a day). The app creates an overlay so you can properly align your face (or your subject’s) each time to ensure a smooth time-lapse effect. When you’re done, the app creates a time-lapse movie you can then upload to your favorite social network. You do have some control over the final video, including the ability to pull specific images out of it. The goofy imaging apps just keep on coming.

Instagram to Add Video Sharing?
Instagram is one hugely popular photo app, but it has yet to take advantage of the HD video capture capabilities in the iPhone 4 and 4S. That, however, may be changing. At a recent TechCrunch event in China, Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom reportedly hinted that the service was aiming at users’ “entire lives” and not just photos. Stay tuned on this one as the popularity of the company’s still image app would certainly seem to lend itself well to the world of consumer video clips. We’ll see.

A Photo Shout-Out?
The expression “Shout Out” has certainly been around for quite a while, as giving someone a “shout-out” goes back to late last century, so it should come as no surprise that the notion is now moving to cyberspace. Long Island-based ShoutOmatic recently launched a new free service to allow anyone to audibly “Shout-Out” what’s on their mind. While 140 characters of text are fine for the monotone, emotionless world of Twitter, ShoutOmatic is hoping to truly bring a voice to the social network world.

Using ShoutOmatic you can share voice/text/photos and location all from one “Shout” to your Twitter and Facebook streams. The company actually describes the product as “audible-tweets,” so instead of typing a 140-character tweet, users simply record spoken messages on their laptop—iPhone and Android compatibility are in the works—and upload them to ShoutOmatic.

And there’s more, ShoutOmatic founder Norm Levy has connections in the music industry from a previous venture where he was developing a “virtual album MP3 player” as a replacement for CDs. He claims record labels and artists are thinking about using ShoutOmatic as a way for artists to be in touch with their fans, much like Twitter. For instance the band 3 Doors Down will be featuring ShoutOmatic on their Facebook page soon.

Levy eventually envisions a business model that could involve selling celebrity tweets to people. You’ve got a buddy who’s a big Eminem fan, so how about buying him a personal shout-out from Eminem through ShoutOmatic. A pricing structure for this is still being worked out but the potential here is explosive.

For now, the idea of bringing images to life with a short audio clip is pretty cool, too. As cool and popular as tweets have become? We’ll see. shoutomatic.com

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