Google’s “fresh approach to Photos”

google photos

google photos

Google today officially announced its long-rumored online picture service, with free storage for “a lifetime of memories” — unlimited, high-quality photos and videos.

“Every second of every day, people around the world are capturing their memories through photos and videos,” the company says. “Humankind has already taken trillions of photos and will take another trillion this year alone.”

However, “the more moments we capture, the more challenging it becomes to relive those memories. Photos and videos become littered across mobile devices, old computers, hard drives and online services (which are constantly running out of space). It’s almost impossible to find that one photo right at the moment you need it, and sharing a bunch of photos at once is frustrating, often requiring special apps and logins.

“We wanted to do better. So today we’re introducing Google Photos.”

(As Apple earlier this year rolled out its own “Photos” service, you’d think Google could have gone with maybe “Pictures” — but more than likely the idea is to position its offering as direct competition.)

The standalone product (spun out of the stalled Google + social service) provides private online picture storage, as well as organization, sync, and image optimization features. There will be desktop, web, Android, and iOS versions. The service will maintain the original resolution, up to 16 megapixels for photos, and 1080p high-definition for videos.

“With this launch we’ve made a lot of progress towards eliminating many of the frustrations involved in storing, editing and sharing your memories,” Google adds. “But we have a lot more in store—so as you keep snapping photos and capturing videos, we’ll keep working on making them even easier to store, share and bring to life.”

Here’s more information.


GoPro developing quadcopters and virtual reality

gopro vr capture

gopro vr capture

Guess it’s not enough to be the camera aboard most quadcopters: GoPro announced it’s working on its own drone, as well an array for holding multiple modules for capturing immersive motion VR environments.

TechCrunch reports six cameras will record a spherical video.

Here is the full article.

Today Show spotlights MailPix’ photo pillows

mailpix pillow

mailpix pillow

MailPix continues to come up with different photo-personalized products — and ways to market them.

The print provider got its latest wares on The Today Show this week, offering 75 percent off the customized photo burlap pillows for a limited time.

The result? Before the day was half-over, it “had already become the largest day in MailPix history!” says CEO Fred Lerner.

It’s the company’s second time on the show. “MailPix was thrilled to be invited back to appear on NBC’s Today Show segment, Jill’s Steals and Deals,” Lerner adds.

The personalized pillows can be ordered in either 16×16-inch or 18×18-inch sizes. You can choose to print full-bleed single images or collages, and choose a different image on each side. Burlap is a coarse woven fabric made from vegetable fiber. “Enjoy rustic home decor without living in the country,” the company adds.

Narrative adds WiFi to wearable cam

Narrative Clip2 lady

Narrative Clip2

With the upcoming Clip 2 wearable camera, Narrative will increase the capture resolution to 8-megapixel, and add WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity.

The Swedish company says its $199 device allows you to capture “Memories like you’ve never shared them before: Authentic smiles, sudden surprises, or your baby’s first step. The automatic photo capture of Narrative Clip 2 lets you stay in the moment while capturing it. Keep your mind and hands free when it matters, while still being able to collect and share your stories.”

Also, its online service’s smart algorithms provide “automatic organization,” Narrative adds, and “sorts your photos into collections of moments and highlights your best shots to let you easily dive in and relive or share your favorites.”

For WiFi, the camera has to be connected to an external power source since you can’t move 8GB of data through the air on such a small battery.”

The Narrative Clip 2 is also weatherproof, adds a gyroscope, and has a wider lens (86 degrees) than its predecessor (68 degrees). It should ship in the Fall.

Here’s more information.

Narrative Clip2 specs


Time-lapse tech mines the Web

time lapse tech

time lapse tech

For years, millions of us have taken photos all around the world, and posted those pics online. Now researchers the University of Washington are combining those shots into time-lapse videos that show huge changes over time.

The “approach for synthesizing time-lapse videos of popular landmarks from large community photo collections” is completely automated and “leverages the vast quantity of photos available online,” they write. They clustered 86 million photos into landmarks and popular viewpoints, sorted the photos by date, and warped each photo onto a common viewpoint.

“Our resulting time-lapses show diverse changes in the world’s most popular sites, like glaciers shrinking, skyscrapers being constructed, and waterfalls changing course.”

The full story is here.

Here’s a video demo.


Smartphone scans your iris

iris scan cu

iris scan cu

In Japan, smartphone users can unlock their device by looking at it — and make a mobile payment as well.

The latest phone from Fujitsu scans irises via an infrared camera and infrared LED. It’s the first (shipping) phone to implement eye-based biometrics.

Everyone’s iris has a unique pattern, and reading the iris is reportedly more secure than the fingerprint scans used, for example, in the latest iPhones.

The phone also has a 20-megapixel camera and a 5-inch display.

There’s a fun story-telling video demo here.

iris scan purchase


Panasonic’s “4K Photo” takes 30 stills per second

panasonic g7

panasonic g7With it “4K Photo” functions, the latest from Panasonic shoots 30 frames per second as long as the shutter button is pressed, in the 4K Burst mode (and the 4K Pre-burst records 60 images from before or after release of the shutter).

The Lumix DMC-G7 mirrorless camera captures 4K video as well of course, and for stills at the full 16-megapixel resolution, it has a continuous shooting speed of 6 fps.

It’s Low Light AF “makes it possible to set focus on the subject more precisely even without an AF assist lamp in extremely low-lit situations all the way down to -4EV,” the company says, “which is as dark as moonlight.”

The camera also has an articulated 3-inch display and WiFi connectivity. It’s $800.

Full features, lower price for Fujifilm X-T10

Fujifilm X-T10

Fujifilm X-T10

With its latest mirrorless camera, Fujifilm is offering the features from one of its more popular models in a more affordable package.

The new $800 X-T10 has many specs that are similar to those of the $1200 X-T1 flagship: a 16-megapixel APS-C sized sensor, 3-inch tilting display, and a continuous shooting speed of 8 frames per second. It adds     subject tracking autofocus, and eye detection AF that automatically detect and focus on human eyes.

The camera has the X-series retro look, with “three precision-milled aluminum dials that give the X-T10 a premium feel and allow users to intuitively adjust the combination of aperture, shutter speed and shooting functions while concentrating on picture taking,” the company says.


Wolfram identifies images

imageidentify vacuum

imageidentify vacuum

One technology necessary for us to more easily organize our thousands of images is smarter software that can tell just what’s what in our shots. Now famed innovator Stephen Wolfram (creator of Mathematica) is looking into imaging — developing a method for more accurate identification of the subjects in a photo.

Introducing the web service, he writes: “ “What is this a picture of?” Humans can usually answer such questions instantly, but in the past it’s always seemed out of reach for computers to do this. For nearly 40 years I’ve been sure computers would eventually get there—but I’ve wondered when. I’ve built systems that give computers all sorts of intelligence, much of it far beyond the human level. Now …there’s finally a function called ImageIdentify built into the Wolfram Language that lets you ask, “What is this a picture of?”—and get an answer.”

The Image Identification Project lets you take any picture and see what ImageIdentify thinks it is. It’s only a work in progress now, of course. When I tried a photo of the robot vacuum Samsung introduced today, it thought it was a stapler. But Wolfram says that while “it won’t always get it right, most of the time I think it does remarkably well. And to me what’s particularly fascinating is that when it does get something wrong, the mistakes it makes mostly seem remarkably human. It’s a nice practical example of artificial intelligence.”

Wolfram adds that “if one had lots of photographs, one could immediately write a Wolfram Language program that, for example, gave statistics on the different kinds of animals, or planes, or devices, or whatever, that appear in the photographs.”

You can try it here.

Samsung seeing-eye vacuum

samsung robot vacuum

samsung robot vacuum cam

Samsung is one of the leading image sensor manufacturers — and now it’s added imaging to a common household device: the vacuum cleaner.
Of course, this one’s a robot.

The Powerbot has an onboard camera with a fisheye lens, and ten individual “smart sensors,” the company says, “that help it determine the optimal cleaning path by creating a complete map of your home, including walls, furniture and stairways. So you don’t need to worry about furniture or objects on the floor. Simply turn it on, and let it do the vacuuming for you.”

Samsung claims it offers “60 times more suction than previous models” thanks to its cyclonic vacuum that “generates strong centrifugal forces.”
It’s $999.
Here’s more information.
Gizmodo has a review here.