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.

Rhinos get camera implants


Here’s another example of how ubiquitous affordable cameras and image transmission can change our world:

How can wildlife protectors prevent poaching? Perhaps surveillance will ward off illegal hunters… But it’s not like installing a few cameras in your home or business —they can hardly place cameras everywhere an endangered animal might tread.

So instead, they’re putting cameras on the animal. Or, actually, in the animal — in the horn.

The non-profit organization Protect says their 24/7 real time poaching alarm and monitoring system for rhinos is the result of 15 years of “finding a way to effectively protect the species from poaching and bring it back from the precipice of extinction.” Rangers warned “a team of poachers could be just over that rise in the land butchering a rhino right now and we would have no idea it was happening. We need to know when and where the poachers are striking, as it happens. If we had some tool to alert us to a poaching event as it took place, we could be there in minutes, there would be no escaping for the poachers, no way to get horn or tusk or bone away; poaching would become impossible, we just need that tool.”

That tool turns out to be a camera and transmitter, one small enough to be embedded in the horn of the rhino, ensuring any illegal hunter can be spotted and identified.

The Protect RAPID (Real-time Anti Poaching Intelligence Device) also combines a heart rate monitor that triggers an alarm, and a GPS receiver “pinpointing the location within a few meters so that rangers can be on the scene via helicopter or truck within minutes.”

Here’s more information.



Google separates photos from social network

google photos“Goodbye Google+ Photos, hello +Google Photos!”

That’s how Google announced it was severing its online photo service from its fledgling social network.

The company had begun promoting an independent Google Photos app in May. “With Google Photos you can store unlimited high quality photos and videos for free, find photos fast, and see them organized by what matters to you.”

Now it will “start to shut down Google+ Photos” next month.

Apparently users have to switch from one service to the other — strangely, Google can’t handle a seamless transition for them, although it does say “Don’t worry, all your photos and videos will still be saved and available after you switch to the new, stand-alone Google Photos app.”

Here’s more information.

Print a picture book with a text


No app required: a photo book publisher is striving for the most simple print ordering system yet — just send an SMS text.

Mountain View-based SimplePrints says it has “trained professionals standing by 24/7 to create the perfect photo book for you. Simply send us a text message and a member from our photo curation staff will immediately get started on your book.”

It’s called Photo Magic but no, it’s not quite that automatic: you then have to upload photos to a website, answer a few questions about a theme, and approve an online proof prior to printing. “Once we get started you should have a draft within 30 minutes,” the company adds.

SimplePrints offers 8×8-inch softcover and hardcover photo books, starting at $15 for 20 pages. They print, assemble, and ship books from California and New Jersey.

Here’s more information.


Panasonic rangefinder captures 4k

panasonic gx8

The new GX8 from Panasonic features 4K video capture, and image stabilization in both body and lens.

Almost any type of vibration can be effectively suppressed with this innovative image stabilization system,” the company says. “As a result, you can get a clear handheld shots in low-lit situations.”

The rangefinder-style camera has a 20-megapixel sensor and a quad-core CPU that performs high-speed signal processing, the company says. It has an ISO of 25,600, burst shooting at 8 fps, and 30 fps 8-megapixel stills. There’s a tilting 3-inch display, WiFi, and NFC.

The mirrorless interchangeable lens camera has a magnesium allow body with a splash- and dust-proof rugged design, Panasonic adds.

It’s $1199 for the camera body.



The FZ300 is “splash- and dust-proof camera for sports, outdoor and events,” Panasonic says, and packs a 24x optical zoom that has an F2.8 aperture throughout the zoom range.

The $600 compact captures 4K video and 12-megapixel stills.


Monetization models for mobile photography


A new white paper “zooms in on today’s monetization options for mobile photo apps,” says Suite 48 Analytics.

The study of four leading portrait-enhancing app developers examines just how “making money from photo apps is still more art than science. Even when their user demographics and use cases are similar, photo app developers differ greatly in how they monetize their apps, reflecting differences in legacy business models, financial resources, or strategic goals.”

The case study analyzes Lightrick’s Facetune, ArcSoft’s Perfect365, CyberLink’s YouCam Perfect and YouCam Makeup, and Athentech’s Perfectly Clear.

All four have common use cases – improving portrait photos (primarily selfies) and user demographics (primarily young females).

  • Facetune deploys only one monetization method – charging for the app – and has been the number 1 paid app in over 100 countries.
  • Perfect365 uses a rich mix of monetization methods for its millions of users, including in-app purchasing, advertising, integration of e-commerce for beauty products, and the ability to order printed photobooks.
  • YouCam Perfect and its sister app YouCam Makeup are gearing up to be monetized in various ways but the company has chosen, so far, to forego any revenues in favor of rapidly growing its user base and user engagement. This includes the recent launch of, and integration with, Beauty Circle – a beauty-focused social community site.
  • Perfectly Clear is offered as a paid B2C app but the company also licenses its core technology, or the complete app, to its B2B partners.

“Whereas some of the tried-and-true methods, such as charging for apps, can still be – perhaps surprisingly – lucrative, implementation makes all the difference between a moderate and a runaway success,” reports report author Hans Hartman. “For instance, discounting the app price can do more harm than good unless the optimal incentive amount, timing and prospect targeting have been determined – all of which require rigorous testing and analysis.”

The study also discusses a number of innovative monetization methods, including in-app e-commerce integration, data-driven advertising optimization, and photo print product offerings. “These new models show great promise,” said Hartman, “but they’re still being fine-tuned in the marketplace.”

The issues will be discussed in depth at the Mobile Photo Connect conference on September 29 in San Francisco.


The 16-page free white paper is here.

Apple updates its “Camera” — iPod Touch


Most people take photos with their phones, the iPhone is by many measures the world’s most popular camera, yada yada…

So why doesn’t Apple make a camera?

As we’ve pointed before, it kinda does: the iPod Touch is an affordable smart camera, one that offers many features that compact “standalone” cameras do not.

And now Apple has upgraded the camera components in its media player, for the first time in 3 years: from a 5-megapixel sensor to 8, as well as a faster processor than boosts many imaging functions. The Touch can capture time-lapse and slow-motion video, as well as panoramas and burst still photos. There’s even a motion coprocessor which can be used for smoother video capture.

It’s a lot of camera for just $199 — especially as it provides all the functions of an iPhone (except for that making calls part*). That includes access to popular imaging apps such as Instagram, and the primary method for sharing and viewing photos, Facebook — which cameras can’t match — as well as a 4-inch touchscreen.

(* Although Apple points out “Three times faster WiFi lets customers stay in touch with friends and family through FaceTime calls.”)

Blacks’ online business bought


Les Pros de la Photo will buy the Blacks Photo website and app from Telus.

The Montreal-based photofinisher will run Blacks as an online operation, reports Wifihifi.

The company runs no stores of its own, though it does service pharmacies in Quebec and the rest of Canada.

The deal is to close August 4th. Telus is closing all 59 Blacks stores by August 8th or earlier.

Here is the full article.


Output Options: custom camera, magic mug

chaes 5

Mugs with pictures on ’em are old-hat — or are they? And where else can you put a photo… Howabout on your camera?

Chase’s Cameras will sell you a camera customized with your photo. No, they’re not a new camera manufacturer — instead they are taking a Canon 5d Mark III and embedding an image in the case.

The company says their super-bright ultraviolet LED “made with gallium nitride nanoscale structures…makes it possible to print on all types of material, even very thin, heat sensitive, or highly flammable material. More than just a pretty camera, the technology used for this unique customization opens the door to commercial customization of all types.”

Here’s more information.



Meanwhile, Mailpix has updated the novelty mug with a novel twist: an image that appears only when the mug is filled.

“Our Black Magic Mug magically changes when you add a hot liquid, so what may appear to be an ordinary black mug magically shows your photos and personalized greeting when in use,” the company says. “Create a custom mug that will make you feel like a kid again each morning when you enjoy your tea or coffee. Amaze friends and family and show off your Black Magic Photo Mug again and again!”

The 11-ounce ceramic mug is $25.

Here’s more information.

Pixelmator gets touchy


The Lithuanian developers behind Pixelmator have added a cool new feature to the iOS version of their photo editor: Dynamic Touch.

“When you touch the screen with your finger, Dynamic Touch detects the finger surface area in contact with the screen and automatically adjusts the brush size when the surface area changes,” the company says. “Touch the screen with the tip of your finger to create thin strokes and use a larger finger surface area for thicker lines. This makes retouching images faster and more precise.” The new technique applies to all the app’s Retouch tools.

The mobile version also now adds the image repairing algorithm recently introduced to the desktop software.

On the PMA Podcast: Changes in the interchangeable lens camera market

infotrends study

The distinction between SLRs and competing compact interchangeable lens cameras is disappearing, reports research firm InfoTrends, “given recent camera introductions and their positioning in the market.”

“2014 represented a year of change in the digital camera market, with significant decreases in unit shipments and sales across multiple global regions,” the company says. “Nevertheless, InfoTrends expects the ILC market to remain profitable for innovative imaging companies that continue to introduce new products and respond to consumers’ needs.”

Ed Lee, Infotrends

For more on this report, we interview InfoTrends Group Director Ed Lee. “Opportunities still exist in this market,” he says. “Smartphone owners are now the breeding ground for first-time DILC camera owners. There is a segment of smartphone owners who are graduating from casual photographers to photography enthusiasts and are beginning to seek out education opportunities to learn more about the art of photography.”

You can download the audio episode or subscribe to the podcast here.

Or you can tune in now with the player below.