What's in store? High-resolution images, smaller and smarter gear, and instantaneous wireless image transfer
Slowly more and more manufacturers are adding smartphone-connectivity to cameras, especially in the compact market.
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“Wireless is really becoming more of a factor this year in the point-and-shoots,” says Canon’s Chuck Westfall. “The key is making it easy and friendly for people to share their images.” Camera manufacturers have realized that smart phones can be their gateway. Using peer-to-peer Wi-Fi connections between the camera and a smart device, such as an iPhone or Android phone, you can move images from the camera to the phone and then on to social media sites or elsewhere. Apps, such as Canon’s CameraWindow for iPhone, make the process easier.
Even before Kodak released the EasyShare One in 2005, moving photos wirelessly was a big goal. Since then, manufacturers have struggled in vain to get cameras connected to Internet hotspots.
So what’s next? Connecting wirelessly to cell phones. This way you can capture a picture that puts a cell phone image to shame, and then seamlessly send it to the phone for upload to the Internet. And the possibilities for communication between the camera and cell phone or digital tablet are vast.
“We’ve built an app paradigm,” says Samsung’s Jay Kelbley. “With our remote viewfinder app, your smart device can be used to remotely control your camera while using the smart device as the finder to frame your images. Our mobile-link app lets you browse content on your camera, bring those images into your smart device, and upload them to Facebook or back them up on a cloud-based service like Samsung’s AllShare.”
Says Sony’s Mark Weir, “Lever-aging the upload capability of the cell phone is what makes it all work. We all hope that the bridge will free cameras to be cameras, and phones to be phones. So far, neither have been both at the same time very well.” Sony cameras use smart devices to send images and video to its PlayMemories service, as well as to social sites such as Facebook, Flickr, and YouTube.
Panasonic has a proprietary service, too. “We’ve created a free Android and iPhone app called Lumix Link,” says Darin Pepple. “It makes the connection easy, can send images to your phone or tablet, and can also send it to Lumix Club, where you can set up social network defaults so that, after you upload to your phone, Lumix Club takes over and you don’t have to update each social network individually.”
Our lives continue to become ever more Web-connected. And in that process cameras will find their rightful place in the ecosystem of electronics that we use to help define our existence. They can become a sort of universal language. As more and more people use images to communicate on an everyday level, who knows how our world will change?