New York, NY—Organizers of the annual 6Sight conference have referred to the event as a peek at the Future of Imaging, and as the show completed its two-day run back in June (colocating for the first time with CE Week in New York City), it was clear that future is happening now.
During his keynote speech at the event, Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), focused on innovation within the imaging industry and how it is dramatically changing the behavior of today’s consumers.
“Innovation has led to many opportunities for growth. Smartphones have become the primary camera used by most people, and along with tablets and connectivity, they are changing behaviors. This transformation has shifted the photo model to be focused on electronics but has also created a huge increase in the number of images being captured,” he explained.
Shapiro later added, “The imaging industry is facing challenges on a large scale, with reduced price points and market saturation. But other industries have gone through this, and the ones who have done so successfully are those that don’t simply do what they have always done, but instead try something different. While we often focus on technology, for consumers, imaging is all about conveying emotion. Innovating on the basis of sharing emotions is the key to reaching consumers.”
Shifting gears to PMA@CES 2013, which will be held January 8-11, 2013, Shapiro concluded his keynote with a mention of the new venue for the event at the LVH, formerly called the Las Vegas Hilton, and discussed what CEA believes are the benefits this new venue will provide attendees and exhibitors. With a larger, dedicated hall at LVH, PMA@CES 2013 will offer easy transportation to and from hotels along the strip and the show, as well as quick access to the 2012 International CES, which takes place just steps away at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
As the conference progressed, tapping into the emotional connection consumers have with their images became a common thread, and several panel sessions touched on this as a focus of their discussions.
Jeanette Cajide, cofounder of Blurtt.com, a website that helps consumers use images to convey emotion when communicating online, explained: “We think consumers today are using images to communicate emotions more than ever, and our service is all about allowing people to make a visual statement about what it is they want to say or about how they feel.”
The future of the “connected camera” trend was also discussed, as camera manufacturers continue to deal with the ever-popular smartphone market and the continued improvements in image capture tech within that segment.
Samsung’s Jose Hernandez felt, “Digital cameras need to be connected devices in order to truly compete with smartphones,” adding that the sharing aspects inherent with the technology remain a major key for users.
Verizon’s Steve Linke cautioned, “Simply adding Wi-Fi capability does make a dedicated digital still camera a connected device.”
6Sight’s moderators later asked attendees to place their bets as to which of three possibilities would most likely win out for the future of the connected camera: 1) cameras will remain relatively unchanged in terms of connectivity in the next few years, competing solely on image quality; 2) cameras will add either Wi-Fi or cellular transceivers to let users send images directly from the camera; or 3) cameras will connect to a smartphone the user also carries, and use that device to transmit images—in partnership rather than competition with smartphone OEMs.
Almost no one believed the first option would prove true: cameras must connect. Almost a third voiced support for a completely connected camera that integrated its own transceiver. But the clear opinion of the majority of the 2012 6Sight attendees was an endorsement of the camera/smartphone combination, one that marries the primary strengths of both popular consumer electronics devices.
Memories as a Gift
The increase in consumer interest of photo merchandise products was also a hot topic at the 2012 6Sight. Hans Hartman, of the web-marketing firm Suite 48, explained: “Imaging retailers need to adopt more of a gift shop mentality today. Consumers want to think more creatively when it comes to their images and simply making a print doesn’t fit that mentality anymore.”
Hartman added that retailers also need to tap into what he called “the crowd source mentality,” explaining that oftentimes multiple people within a group are photographing the same event. “Retailers need to offer those groups a way to share all those images in a simple way by offering the chance to combine their efforts so all the images of a particular event don’t go unshared.”
Show & Tell
The 2012 6Sight wasn’t simply all talk, as among the newer imaging innovations announced at the show were Polaroid’s Z2300 instant digital camera with an integrated printer. The Z2300 features a built-in printer with inkless ZINK technology, enabling users to instantly capture, edit and in less than a minute print full color, 2×3-inch prints. The Z2300 also adds the ability to upload images to any social media platform.
The wearable digital camera is perhaps the newest technology the space is enjoying, and the venerable GoPro camera has been joined by the JVC GC-XA1 Adixxion, Sony’s yet unnamed new wearable action cam, and the ION Air Pro introduced at 6Sight. The Air Pro’s bullet-like design and ability to be submerged in up to 30 feet of water help set it apart. You have a choice between a few different HD video modes, including the standard Full HD 1080p, Tall HD 960p and 720p HD at 30 and 60 fps. This is an emerging category worth keeping an eye on as consumer thirst for recording everything they do today is only gaining steam.
ECCE Terram (ecce-terram.com) showcased an interesting photo/print software setup for retailers that aims to dramatically improve the sale of photo merchandise items. Their Photo2Lab software suite is designed to enable the retail location’s customers to use whichever order channel is the most convenient for them (desktop, web, mobile, social app, in-store kiosk, etc).
Also of note was the introduction of new software from Xerox Corp. under the rather broad-based title of Intelligent Imaging. The company’s Craig Saunders demonstrated their Simple Personalized Imaging program that lets the user create customized photos for birthdays and holidays, in much less time than premium tools like Photoshop take. Saunders explained that Xerox researchers have developed an easy-to-use tool that allows the end user to personalize their own photos by incorporating a text message in a natural way that automatically blends perfectly with the existing image. The user can also easily insert new text or replace existing text in the image.
Saunders added that the software performs complex image analysis and 3D mappings to determine the perspective with which to place the text into the image. The user also has the option to choose a specific font, color and other special effects to make the text look even more natural.
All in all, the 2012 6Sight conference was another fascinating peek into the future (as promised) for an event that has hopefully found a new home as part of CEA Line Shows/CE Week in New York City.
CE Week Happenings
Presented by CEA, CE Week spanned more than 48,000 square feet of floor space in New York City and featured a weeklong series of technology events across the city, including the CEA Line Shows, Digital Downtown Conference, Eureka Park Challenge and Mobile Apps Showdown.
“Growing bigger and more important each year, CE Week is a must-attend industry event in the media capitol of the world,” said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO, CEA. “This midyear event brings all the key audiences together for ‘reality check’ features, compelling product launches, dynamic discussions and quality networking that continue to fuel the dynamic CE industry.”
The conference sessions, networking events, press conferences and product launches drew thousands of media and CE industry professionals from across the nation. Here’s a brief look at some of the key highlights.
The CEA Line Shows featured an assortment of new CE product introductions from more than 140 major brands, innovators and start-ups, including: Dish Network, Intel, LG, Monster, Pioneer, RCA, Scosche, Sony, Tiffen and Westinghouse Digital.
“This was our largest exhibit floor ever and turnout was amazing among the Mid-Atlantic tech community,” said Eric Schwartz, president and publishing director, CTPG. “It’s clear that CE Week has become the premier technology event for the East Coast technology community. We have a strong partnership with CEA and Martin Porter Associates and look forward to continuing this momentum and coming in even larger for 2013.”
The Digital Downtown conference began with a 1:1 executive interview with Gary Shapiro and Randy Fry, president and cofounder of Fry’s Electronics and chairman of the CEA board. The executives discussed Internet sales tax and key retail trends.
Shawn DuBravac, chief economist and director of research, CEA, presented the latest market research trends in his Industry Update. DuBravac discussed the impact of the global and U.S. economies on the consumer technology market. He explained that consumers are holding back on tech spending in proportion to overall spending on durable goods, but that this will likely change in the second half of the year.
Then, in a CEA press conference, CEA launched its new foundation and announced New York-based Community Services, Inc., as its first grant recipient.
For the Eureka Park Challenge, a panel of four judges and attendees voted Tactus Technology Inc.’s Tactus Tactile touch screen the grand prize winner. The Eureka Park Challenge is CEA’s contest for entrepreneurs and start-ups. Tactus was founded in 2008 to develop the next generation of touch interface. As grand prize winner, Tactus will receive a free booth in the specialized Eureka Park TechZone at the 2013 International CES.
Living in Digital Times displayed the best and brightest in mobile app technology on the Wall of Apps and at the Mobile Apps Showdown. Life360, an app that lets users locate and track family and friends, was named the winner of the online vote. Pressman Toy’s iPieces, an interactive board game, and Kurio7, a family-friendly Android tablet, both won the popular vote, determined by audience applause.
Condition One, an embeddable immersive video player for the iPad/iPhone that integrates seamlessly into existing applications or can be launched as a stand-alone product, won the NY Tech Start-Up Classic, produced by NY Tech Meet Up. As part of its prize, Condition One wins free exhibition space at the 2013 International CES in Las Vegas.
Finally, Seth Pinsky, president, New York Economic Development Corporation, gave a Thursday morning keynote and addressed how the Bloomberg administration is working to build on the growth of New York City’s start-up community and secure a leadership position for the city in the 21st century for innovation. Other sessions featured discussions from top-name panelists on home technologies, mobile health, next-gen TV, including 4K, OLED and passive 3D, CE industry predictions, tablet accessories and more.