About Paul Worthington

Paul Worthington is a journalist and consumer imaging consultant. He produces the annual Future Imaging Summit at PMA@CES, and writes for PMA Newsline and PMA Magazine, as well as other publications.

MIT develops vision-correcting displays

MIT corrects vision 3

MIT corrects vision 1

Are you squinting at your phone? I am, and I’m tired of it. Fortunately new technology could solve the issue not just with bigger fonts, but with an overlay screen that could tailor every device to your own individual optical prescription.

MIT Media Laboratory and the University of California at Berkeley have developed a new display technology that automatically corrects for vision defects — no glasses (or contact lenses) required, MIT reports. “The technique could lead to dashboard-mounted GPS displays that farsighted drivers can consult without putting their glasses on, or electronic readers that eliminate the need for reading glasses, among other applications.”

MIT corrects vision 2

The solution “basically puts the glasses on the display, rather than on your head,” the chief scientist behind it says. “It will not be able to help you see the rest of the world more sharply, but today, we spend a huge portion of our time interacting with the digital world.”

The display is a variation on a glasses-free 3D technology, and projects slightly different images to different parts of the viewer’s pupil. “A vision defect is a mismatch between the eye’s focal distance — the range at which it can actually bring objects into focus — and the distance of the object it’s trying to focus on,” MIT says. “Essentially, the new display simulates an image at the correct focal distance — somewhere between the display and the viewer’s eye.”

MIT corrects vision 3

The full story is here.

 

 

Printicular provides 4 million prints

printicular

printicular

More than four million prints have been made from mobile phones using the Printicular apps, developer MEA Mobile reports. “Millions of prints means millions of smiles,” the company says.

The free Printicular apps let you order prints from a mobile that is picked up at Walgreens in the USA, or for delivered to your home worldwide.

Printicular “shows that physical prints are still the best way to turn digital images into the memories people want to cherish,” the company says. “Printicular now generates over a quarter of a million prints a month, and growing.”

The company also released new PhotoCard and Poster printing apps.

Snapchat worth $10 billion?

snapchat2

snapchatYou know what we always say about headlines ending in question marks?
(The answer is “No.”)

Nonetheless, Bloomberg reports instantly-disappearing-image communications app Snapchat is courting investors to the tune of many multiples over the crazy amount Facebook already offered a few months back.

The Snapchat mobile messaging application is being looked at by Alibaba Group Holdings, the report says. “If the funding is completed, Snapchat would join a small group of technology startups that are valued in the eleven-digit range.” (After Airbnb, Dropbox, and Uber.)

Bloomberg adds that “Snapchat’s popularity has continued to grow, with people sending more than 700 million disappearing “snaps” a day and more than 500 million stories viewed daily.”

Facebook tried to buy Snapchat for $3 billion last year. Alibaba is China’s largest e-commerce company.

Meanwhile, the company Facebook did buy is launching another Snapchat competitor: Instagram’s bolt is a one-touch photo and video messaging app.

It’s launching in Singapore, South Africa and New Zealand, TechCrunch reports, adding, “Bolt is barging into the already extremely crowded photo and video sharing space. Beyond Snapchat, Taptalk, Mirage, Twitter, Vine, and a slew of international messaging apps, Facebook itself already offers News Feed, Messenger, Groups, Paper, Slingshot, WhatsApp, Instagram’s feed, and Instagram Direct.”

 

Pelican demos array camera’s 3D captures

pelican array sensor

pelican array sensor

A new sensor design with computational imaging captures the complete depth information of the scene, claims Pelican Imaging, “allowing users to refocus after the fact and perform an unprecedented range of edits.”

Like the lightfield camera from Lytro, the new camera will let you “focus on any subject, change focus (even on multiple subjects) after you take the photo, capture linear measurements, scale and segment your images, change backgrounds, and apply filters,” the company says.

The difference: “all from any device.” Pelican’s camera system will work in compacts and even phones. The “super-thin mobile array camera is less than 3mm thick, “about 50 percent thinner than best-in-class current smartphone cameras” the company says  “It is the first mobile plenoptic camera to capture video, 30 fps at 1080p resolution, and still images at approximately 8 megapixels, with excellent image quality.”

Also, with no autofocus mechanism or other moving parts “every scene is captured in complete focus.”

There’s more information here, along with a “Life in 3D” video that features Pelican Imaging CEO Chris Pickett explaining “Depth-Based Photography.”

 

Canon cuts forecast, debuts two long-zoom models

Canon PowerShot SX400

Canon PowerShot SX400

The latest compact from Canon zooms 42x with optical image stabilization.
The PowerShot SX520 HS’s Zoom Framing Assist feature “intelligently controls the lens,” Canon says, “making it easy to locate the main subject by zooming out, and then zooming back in quickly and automatically for dramatic close-ups with face detection where applicable.” The $400 camera has a16-megapixel sensor and captures 1080p video — and its Hybrid Auto mode “creates a beautifully stabilized HD video clip (up to approximately four seconds) every time a user shoots a still image, then compiles the clips into a single movie that forms a “highlighted reel” for the day.”

Canon also debuted the PowerShot SX400 IS, with a 30x zoom, for $250.

“Our goal is to provide people who are passionate about photography with the imaging tools they need to capture the moments that inspire them,” the company says.

 

Meanwhile, the company lowered its full-year sales forecast citing slowing demand for standalone cameras.

Sales are projected to be $37 billion for the current fiscal year, Bloomberg reports, a 2.1 percent cut from the previous forecast. “Smartphones packed with advanced sensors and lenses are winning customers and cutting demand for cheaper compact cameras,” the report notes. “Canon sold 2.3 million compact cameras in the second quarter, a 36 percent decrease from a year earlier. Sales of the company’s single-lens reflex cameras dropped to 1.7 million from 2.1 million. Industry-wide, digital camera shipments declined about 35 percent from a year earlier in the first five months of 2014, according to the Camera & Imaging Products Association.”

 

“Action camera” sales climbing

gopro hd cam

gopro hd camWhile the term implies that the rest of don’t get off the couch to take a photo, “action cam” is both a popular phrase and growing product category.

Market researchers at Futuresource Consulting report the Action Camera market will reach 9 million units in 2018. Also, “GoPro continues to maintain its position as the dominant market leader, despite a growing number of vendors vying for market share,” the survey finds.

“Worldwide demand for action cameras reached almost 5 million units in 2013,” the company adds, “which represented annual growth of 47 percent.”

Why the growth? “The relative importance of outdoor pursuits,” the analysts say, as well as “propensity to spend on emerging CE categories, and the use of social media are some of the main drivers of demand for action cameras.”

In 2013, Future Consulting adds, the majority of sales were for consumer applications, such as sports enthusiasts. The remainder was for professional applications, predominantly TV production.

A 20-page report provides an assessment of the market, forecasts to 2018, profiles the key regions, and reviews the latest developments in the competitive landscape, retail distribution, and product features.

 

On the DIMAcast: Jerry Grossman on the DI Symposium 2014

New DIMAcast 2.0 logo

PMDA Executive Director Jerry Grossman fills us in on the revelations and discussions at the manufacturers association’s second Digital Imaging Symposium.

Their recent conference covered business and consumer issues such as photo and video mobile apps; Google Glass and its effect on the future of photography; 3D printing; and the influence of social media on photography.

You can download the podcast here.

Or tune in now with the embedded player below.

 

People buy from who they like: Give your business a likeable personality

Business Success Logo

Business Success Logo“There’s an old saying in sales: People buy from people they like,” writes the Financial Post. “So what have you done lately to encourage prospects to like your company?”

The article notes that “companies that want to be liked should be caring, sensitive, and have a sense of humor” and offers 10 ways to make your business more likable. Among them:

1. Make your presence felt —open and friendly with all employees, accessible to all.
2. Present a well-rounded person.
3. Stay in touch with customers
4. Your email is prominent on the company’s “Contact Us” webpage.
5. Travel to meet customers and find out what’s new.

The full list is here.

Mediaclip’s responsive photo tool for tablets builds on HTML 5

Mediaclip-tablet

Mediaclip-tabletWhite-label software developer Mediaclip says its new HTML5 builder “provides tablet and mobile users with an optimized, easy to use experience” while also maintaining compatibility with your backend infrastructure and content library assets.

The Montreal-based company says the builders for photo books and photo gifts “are just the first step toward Mediaclip’s new modular product vision.” The upcoming approach to the merchandising of personalized products will include “the complete range of tools and capabilities required to virtually redefine both product merchandising as well as the on-line shopping experience and raise mass market awareness of the value of customized photo gifts and products.”

The HTML5 builder “provides a stunning photorealistic preview that lets customers see what their photo book or gift would look like, triggering the buying impulse,” the company adds.

Mediaclip is also introducing a “Smart Design” with designs that fit all products or sizes, and is dynamic and responsive.

There’s more information here.

 

Selfies spur Sony sensor sales

sony-curved-sensor-chart

sony-curved-sensor-chartSony is already leading the market when it comes to the primary image sensors in smart phones — but many shots these days are “selfies” taken with the lower-resolution secondary camera …and now Sony wants a piece of that action, Reuters reports.

Sony will invest $345 million to increase production of image sensors for smartphones and tablets as the company courts handset makers to get more orders for front-facing camera sensors, the news story says. “The Japanese firm said it will increase production of stacked CMOS sensors at two factories on the southern Japanese island of Kyushu, while completing work on a factory in northwestern Japan it bought from Renesas Electronics.” The investment will allow Sony to raise production by 13 percent to 68,000 wafers a month by August 2015.

Sony currently supplies sensors for the main camera in Apple’s iPhone, Reuters adds, and the company leads Omnivision Technologies “whose sensors are mostly used in front-facing smartphone modules that typically have lower specifications than the main rear camera.”

The full article is here.

There are also reported rumors that the company’s curved sensor design is already heading to phones as well.