The Connected Camera: Imaging News from CTIA ‘08

The Connected Camera: Imaging News from CTIA ‘08


With 5 megapixels, on-board editing, zooms, flashes, and slots ready for 8G (or more) memory cards, many of the premium cellphones on display at CTIA ‘08 have better camera specs than the first few generations of digital cameras ever had. But phone manufacturers are betting that it’s an easy upload experience, not a feature set, which will finally convince consumers to use a cellphone as their primary imaging device.

Nokia recently introduced a media sharing service called Ovi which allows users to upload 100 different file types (directly from smartphones) to a totally-free site offering unlimited storage. In terms of photographs, Ovi will operate much like Flickr, offering an online address for people to post and comment on images. Other phone manufacturers are expanding their partnerships with Flickr, Blogger, YouTube and other user-generated content sites, all with the intent of making it a one-step “lean back experience” to take a picture and post it immediately, avoiding the computer all together.

The enV2, a stylish multi-media phone just launched by LG, is a great example of an experience-oriented camera/handset combo. The evV2 has a white balance feature, a self-timer, and an image editor which will rotate, crop or zoom a photo, and it makes a “shutter sound” when you press the phone’s photo button. Once the user has a photo they like, they can use Bluetooth to wirelessly send the shot to a computer or printer. They can also “picture message” the shot to a friend’s phone.

Sony Ericsson’s premium Cyber-shot Phones (the premium C902 and the C703 are due to come out in the fall of ‘08) offer connectivity which can geotag every image snapped by the handset and a “blog this” function which sends images directly to Blogger sites. The new Cyber-shots sport face-detection, touch-screen menus, and a true Xenon flash…not to mention up to 4G of removable memory in case users want to shoot their entire vacation on the handset.

If and when WiMAX (high speed mobile broadband service, branded “XOHM” by Sprint, which pledges to have some markets up by summer) becomes available in the U.S., it opens the possibility of using a cellphone (or internet tablet, like Nokia’s new N810) as a live video feed for real-time videoconferencing or SWIS (“see what I see”) applications. Samsung’s Paul Thurneysen imagined a day when phones (or point-and-shoots) would be both WiMAX and GPS enabled, allowing parents to not only track their kids’ but actually see what they are doing, a sort of mobile security camera. Luckily for those kids, the mobile imaging devices of the future will still come with “off” buttons.

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