Magazine Recaps Camera News, Ponders Future of Imaging

PHOTOGRAPHERS. If you earn your living from photography, it’s smart to watch trends in technology and photo usage that might affect the demand for your services. One excellent source for learning about the “future of imaging” is 6Sight, an organization which has been which has been tracking advancements in imaging since 2006.

When you download the February/March issue of “6Sight: The Future of Imaging Magazine,” you’ll find a wealth of news and insights. The 48-page issue includes a round-up of camera-related news from the 2012 PMA@CES show in Las Vegas in January, noting trends such as ultra-compact models, cameras with with long stabilized lenses, low-light sensitive imagers, and cameras  with WiFi connectivity. You can also read about what’s new in smartphones and video cameras, including:

To help you understand some of the rationale behind these new imaging devices, the February/March issue of the 6Sight magazine features transcripts of three provocative panel discussions among imaging-product manufacturers and photo-industry analysts.

Social Imaging: Does Sharing Threaten Profits?

In this article, panelists discuss how the imaging industry should respond to the fact that smartphone cameras have made it incredibly easy for everyone to snap photos everywhere they go and instantly share them with Facebook.  They talk about how this new reality affects the businesses of companies that manufacture and sell cameras, process images, and print photos. And they raise the question: What can people who have made a living in photography for three decades do now to continue to make a living?

While discussing photo prints as a way of preserving special memories, panelist Jason Mitura of Viewdle expressed this viewpoint: “Paper is a lousy display medium; it degrades, it’s limited, it has no fidelity, you can’t tap it, you can’t tag it, you can’t share it.”  He foresees a future in which people display their favorite shots on a 55-inch LED TV screen.  And if the house burns down, all of your favorite photos will be recoverable because they will be backed up in the cloud.

Will Compact Cameras with Interchangeable Lenses Replace DSLRs?

In this discussion, panelists consider what type of cameras the next generation of photo enthusiasts might buy when they want to move beyond the camera in their smartphones. Will the new compact, interchangeable-lens cameras without moving mirrors replace the bigger, bulkier, classic SLR camera design? When camera users move up from their camera phones, will they be shopping for cameras with a bigger sensor? ease of use? new lenses?

Everything Captures HD Video: Making the Most of Mass Communication

In the introduction to this article, Paul Worthington notes that our smartphones have become mini-TV studios: “The power that was once in the hands of a few people is now in the hands of just about everybody.” But editing 30 long minutes of boring video into 30 watchable seconds of video takes more work than snapping and sharing hundreds of stills.  So he asks panelists to consider what opportunities exist for creating video—particularly videos for viewers with short attention spans.

Terrence Swee, CEO of muvee, observes that “There is a kind of instinctual style of editing that professionals have that the rest of us simply don’t. Even if you’re a computer-savvy guy and you know how to use all 500 functions in a video-editing app, you are not a film-school-trained person. You’re not Spielberg. You are unlikely to be able to make a compelling story.”

Trends in Picture Taking

The February/March issue of the 6Sight magazine is also packed with market-research reports, summarizing trends in picture taking and camera, smartphone, and tablet usage.

For example: According to estimates compiled by the photo-sharing website 1000memories, about 10 percent of the 3.5 trillion photos that have been taken since the invention of photography less than 200 years ago have been taken in the last 12 months. And, Facebook’s collection of 140 billion photos is over 10,000 times larger than that of the Library of Congress. (Wow!!)

In a world in which we are bombarded with tidbits of news from blogs, video clips, and sound bites, reading a good magazine can be enlightening. While consolidating a wealth of imaging-related news in one place, editor/analyst Paul Worthington helps readers make sense of some of the marketing forces and trends behind the technology news.

2012 6Sight Future of Imaging Conference

For the first time, the 6Sight Future of Imaging Conference will join the Consumer Electronics Association’s CE Week event on June 25 and 26 at the Metropolitan Pavilion in New York.  6Sight 2012 will focus on the potential of the trends in connected devices, sharing and social imaging, mobile apps, sensors, processors, optics, and displays. 6Sight experts will also spotlight trends such as augmented reality, 3D, and intelligent image-recognition technology.

CE Week, June 25-29, brings together global companies and innovators for conferences, exhibitions, workshops, and networking events. Last year’s event drew more than 5,500 attendees, including more than 640 media representatives and analysts.


About 6Sight

6Sight Magazine: February/March issue

2012 6Sight Future of Imaging Conference

6Sight Summit Discusses the Future of Imaging

6Sight LogoPHOTOGRAPHERS. Creative pros know that innovative thinking comes from seeing new things, listening to different ideas, and being open to new experiences. That’s why successful entrepreneurs attend conferences about topics other than the skills and equipment they need at the moment.

By paying attention to where technology is headed, smart entrepreneurs are the first to envision new types of business models and anticipate trends that could potentially disrupt their current businesses.

If your business involves selling photography products or services, check out the program of the 6Sight Future of Imaging Summit, which will be held June 20 to 22 at the Sainte Claire Hotel in San Jose, California. Produced by PMA® International, this event brings together technologists, marketers, futurists, industry analysts, educators, high-volume users, and journalists to preview breakthrough imaging technologies, forecast innovative uses, and spark new ideas and alliances.

At this year’s event, mini-summits will focus on technology, trends, and opportunities in four areas: mobile imaging, social imaging, photo publishing, and photo image capture.

Mobile Imaging Summit. This track is chaired by 6Sight mobile-imaging analyst Tony Henning, who observes that “Ten years after their introduction in Japan, camera phones are finally delivering on their promise. In the last few years, camera-phones and their ecosystem have progressed from being the unwanted stepchild of the imaging industry to the driving force. Significant growth and innovation in the photography industry is coming from the mobile side.”

The keynoter will be J. Gerry Purdy, PhD., principal analyst, mobile and wireless, MobileTrax. He points out that, “The largest selling digital camera in the world sits inside a smartphone. We are seeing sales of over one billion units a year. Through technical innovations, you can now take a really good photo with a phone, as well as HD video.”

Dr. Purdy predicts that more content will be generated by users with camera phones than all the cameras and camcorders combined. Following Dr. Purdy’s presentation, Henning will lead a discussion of the future of mobile-imaging hardware and software with panelists from Nokia, Vidyo, NVIDIA, Verizon Wireless, and other leading companies.

Photo Image Capture Summit: 6Sight’s digital photography expert Paul Worthington will lead this summit, which will explore imaging innovations that will change the way we capture images. He notes that “Affordable, quality cameras are so ubiquitous, it’s easy to forget they are exponentially better than the pricey hardware of yesterday. But those improvements and cost reductions bring a new challenge: What will make consumers buy new cameras, and how can the industry continue to grow and profit?”

The keynoter for this summit will be Vincent Laforet, a Los Angeles based commercial director and photographer who is regularly commissioned for advertising, fine art, corporate and editorial projects. Laforet’s work has been published in most major publications around the world.

Social Imaging Summit: Social media pioneer, business guru, and investor Guy Kawasaki will lead the social imaging summit. This topic is of great interest to photo-service providers because social networking has replaced the traditional 4 x 6-inch print as the primary method people use to share their photographs.

Kawasaki is well-known for his best-selling book “The Art of the Start,” which is a must-read for entrepreneurs seeking funding for start-up companies. In his newest book, “Enchantment,” Kawasaki explains why delighting your customers, bosses, and employees is much more effective than trying to manipulate them. He explains how enchantment can change skeptics and cynics into believers and the undecided into loyal customers and followers.

Photo Publishing Summit: Digital printing and marketing expert Barb Pellow of InfoTrends will lead this summit. She says that as the photo market continues to explode, “Consumer-based photo merchandise, including photo books, calendars, and greeting cards will experience double-digit growth. Numerous vertical market and business applications are emerging to support real estate, travel and leisure, events, and special interest groups. The 6Sight Future of Imaging Summit is going to provide a tremendous opportunity for participants to explore new business ideas.”

For more information about the conference, visit For a preview of the quality of insights you can expect to get at the 2011 conference, visit the Video Rewind Archives of the 2010 Future of Imaging Conference and watch the 30-minute wrap-up panel discussion that concludes Day 2 of the conference.

The 6Sight Report keeps you posted on the types of technologies that will be discussed at the Future of Imaging Summit.



Will You Create the Killer App for Augmented Reality?

Cover of The 6Sight Report April 2011The March/April issue of the 6Sight Report focuses on the growing popularity of mobile imaging, and explains why smart phones provide the perfect combination of camera, display, processor, and connectivity technologies to bring augmented reality experiences to the masses.

The State of Mobile Imaging

The 6Sight Report leads off with Tony Henning’s excellent article on why camera phones are quickly replacing standalone digital cameras as the primary image-capture device used by consumers. He points out that camera phones have always enjoyed two distinct advantages: (1) You carry your phone with you everywhere you go; and (2) Your phone is always connected to family, friends, colleagues and the Internet.

When the first camera phones were introduced in 2000, they were abysmal picture-taking devices.  Yet, in just 10 years, more than 1 billion phones with cameras have been sold.

Yes, there have been rapid, across-the-board improvements in hardware and functionality. But people didn’t really start using the cameras in their smartphones until Apple introduced the iPhone with software that made the cameras easier and more fun to use. As Henning puts it, “Apple made it easy to find the camera function and take pictures, and made it delightful to view and share and interact with them…Suddenly, handset manufacturers were forced to rethink their convoluted, menu-driven interfaces and consider the user experience.”

He notes that since Apple introduced its App Store in 2008, more than 400,000 different apps have been made available, including more than 8,300 in the photography category.  Photography apps can extend the functionality of the camera, streamline uploads to social-networking sites, enable photo editing, let you send printed postcards or invitations from your phone, translate foreign languages, track your medical condition, show the caloric content of foods, read barcodes, and much more.

Augmented Reality on Your Camera Phone

When you see real-world information about tourist sights, movies, restaurants, and services superimposed over what you’re viewing in your camera, you’re experiencing “augmented reality”—images plus information.

The 6Sight Report features a transcript of the panel discussion on augmented reality that was held at the 2010 Future of Imaging Conference last November. Paul Worthington of the 6Sight Report conducted the discussion. Panelists included: Ivan Franco of Ydreams; Michelle Fallon of YOUReality3D; Greg Davis of Total Immersion; Noora Guldemond of Metaio; and Blair MacIntyre, director of the Augmented Environments Lab at the Georgia Institute of Technology

They noted that augmented reality has been used in industrial and commercial applications for several years, but the latest generations of camera phones have made it possible for everyone to start working with augmented reality.

“We still have to find that killer app,” emphasized Franco.

MacIntyre agreed, but believes it’s only a matter of time before someone comes up with a compelling application that will make the use of augmented reality take off. He notes that we couldn’t have imagined Facebook or Twitter of before they happened, and adds that “I don’t think we’ll know what AR is good for until the college student in the dorm figures out what people want, and creates the Facebook of mobile AR.”

Augmented Reality in Museums and Art

It’s always been fascinating to watch what happens when creative professionals start experimenting with new ways to use emerging forms of technology.

A recent NY Times article talked about how museums in New York, Los Angeles, and Europe are developing augmented reality apps that can help visitors better understand some of the exhibitions they are viewing. Some apps will encourage users to interact with the art in new ways.

An international artists’ collective known as Manifest.AR will be experimenting with emerging forms of augmented reality as “interventionist public art.” During the Boston Cyberarts Festival April 22 through May 8, they will be installing virtual objects and artworks in and around Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art.  Manifest.AR has previously participated in augmented-reality interventions at the Museum of Modern Art, the Statue of Liberty, the Venice Biennial, the White House, and the Pentagon.

Another group at the Cyberarts Festival will enable smartphone users to detect virtual alien invaders around Greenway Park, the Boston Children’s Museum and Cyberarts Central at Atlantic Wharf.


Why Is There So Much Hype About 3D Imaging?

Coverof6SightReportPHOTOGRAPHERS. If you want to better understand why there’s so much hype about 3D imaging, download the November/December, 2010 issue of The 6Sight Report. Most of the content of the 30-page issue is devoted to 3D imaging technology, and explains why it’s definitely not a passing fad. Reading the 6Sight Report will give you some valuable context as you start to see more and more product announcements related to 3D imaging.

Although sales of 3D TVs haven’t taken off as quickly as anticipated, one analyst quoted in the 6Sight Report predicts that, “It’s going to be a gradual development, and in 10 years almost everything will be in 3D. It won’t be a big special effect; it’s going to be how we’re used to seeing everything on television.”

6Sight analysts agree that eventually most photography and video will be in three dimensions, not two. Although we have become comfortable with flat images in print and onscreen, we view the world in 3D through two eyes, instead of one lens. As one expert put it, “All flat photography is just a poor attempt to emulate natural perception.”

Slowly but surely, image capture and display devices are being developed that will make viewing 3D images more natural and enjoyable to view. And 3D imaging on big TV screens will provide an immersive environment that everyone on the family can enjoy together.

Vincent John Vincent, who cofounded the GestureTek company that makes 3D camera-based motion control systems for electronic devices, notes that, “It’s not as if we’re going to get 3D to a certain level and then back off. It will eventually be commonplace to have 3D consumer devices for both photography and video…It’s worth learning about it now and adding one’s own artistic understanding to it.”

Opportunities for Professional Photographers

In the 6Sight Report, Paul Worthington interviews Panasonic senior marketing manager Darin People about the company’s growing line of 3D cameras, camcorders, and displays, including the prospects of using special 3D lens systems on cameras and camcorders.

Darin People notes that some professional wedding and commercial photographers are already starting to see the advantages of being able to not only take still pictures but also 3D pictures for their clients.

For now, wedding photographers can differentiate themselves by being able to shoot 3D video for clients that already own a 3D TV set.  But wedding photographers also need to think long term. In order to shoot images and videos that a couple can fully enjoy for decades to come, wedding photographers should start investigating 3D cameras now.

As 3D photography starts to become ‘point-and-shoot’ simple, more photographers will think of new and interesting ways to use the camera. Darin People says Panasonic will take a close look at what consumers are saying and what highly creative individuals are doing with 3D technology and try to figure out: “What are the new things that people want to do with 3D that maybe we haven’t even thought of yet?”

Content Creation

Although sales of 3D TVs haven’t exactly set sales records, experts agree that one of the main impediments has been the lack of compelling content. But over the next few years, the technology and available content will improve and prices will come down.

A number of companies have already waiting to fill the content void. For example, the website SignOn San Diego recently profiled Legend3D, a company that specializes in converting film scenes from 2D to 3D. The company anticipates that it’s only a matter of time before entire libraries of Hollywood films will be converted from 2D to 3D. Legend3D founder Barry Sandrew is quoted as saying, “The technology semi-automates the process, but there has to be a creative person there watching over it and doing it.” Over the coming year, he expects to hire another 150 workers in San Diego and 300 more in India.

 See 3D Prints at Upcoming Wedding Photography Show

The professional wedding and portait photographers who are planning to attend the WPPI Show Feb. 21-23 in Las Vegas will be able to see 3D prints in the 3DPhotoUS booth. The company will be showcasing some of the personalized 3D wedding and portrait prints that they can now offer to their customers. The prints can be made from uploaded JPEG files; a 3D camera isn’t necessary.

According to the company’s website, you won’t need any glasses to see the 3D effects in the wall prints. Nor will the prints be covered by a grooved, lenticular lens that adds an uneven surface to the print. Instead, the prints have a mirror-like surface that uses backlighting to enhance the 3D effects. The company, which has a showroom in the Los Angeles area, will be using a newly developed process to make the prints in their factories in China and Taiwan.

Don’t Bet Against 3D

Personally, I have seen this cycle play out before. When the first generations of digital cameras were introduced in 1990s, many skeptical experts scoffed that those early-model cameras could never possibly be good enough to replace pro-model film cameras. Yet, look how far digital photography has come since then. And, many journalists who attended Adobe press conference announcing the PDF format were very skeptical that Adobe’s innovation would ever become as widely adopted as Adobe envisioned.  

Last fall, I attended a Canon Expo in New York, in which the company’s engineers and scientists demonstrated some of the mixed-reality and immersive 3D imaging technologies that are being developed.  As I wandered through these mind-blowing “Future of Imaging” exhibits, three thoughts kept crossing my mind:

  • The engineers and scientists who develop the technology are just as proud and passionate about their work as photographers, designers, artists, and writers.
  • Even if new imaging technologies don’t get adopted as quickly as analysts and manufacturers might predict, the researchers will find ways to overcome the obstacles to widespread adoption.  
  • I can’t wait to see what will happen when photographers, designers, visual artists, and content creators start dreaming up creative new ways to fully use these 3D-imaging technologies.


6Sight Report: November/December, 2010 issue