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Cameras of the Future

CIPA Predicts the Future of Camera Technologies

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Digital cameras are always changing, adding new features and improving old ones. At the first CP+ photo tradeshow in Japan, the CIPA (Camera and Imaging Products Association) made predictions on what the "cameras of the future" will look like, highlighting some future camera technologies and high-tech cameras.

The president of the CIPA, Tsuyoshi Kikukawa, spoke of the cameras of the future during his keynote address at CP+ 2010. Four of the high-tech ideas are listed here.

1. Goodbye, Shutter Button

Cameras of the future, according to Kikukawa, may no longer require a shutter button. Instead, photographers could wink or use a voice command to tell the camera to record a photo. In this case, the camera probably would be built into a person's glasses, or another everyday item. With the camera built into a pair of glasses, aiming the camera would be easy, too.

This type of camera potentially could work in a manner similar to a hands-free cell phone, where you can issue commands without the need to push a button.

2. Redefining "Ultra Compact"

An ultra compact camera generally is defined as a camera that measures 1 inch or less in thickness. Such small cameras are great because they easily fit in a pants pocket or a purse.

The camera of the future could redefine "ultra compact," though, creating cameras that could be 0.5 inches in thickness and maybe with smaller dimensions than today's cameras, Kikukawa says.

This prediction makes some sense, as digital cameras from a decade ago were much larger than today's small models, and the high-tech components inside digital cameras continue to shrink. As more cameras incorporate touch screens for operating the camera, the camera's size could be determined by the size of its display screen, eliminating all other controls and buttons.

3. "Smell-graphy"

Photography is a visual medium, but the camera of the future may add the sense of smell to photographs.

Adding the ability to stimulate senses other than vision to photographs would be an interesting idea. For example, Kikukawa says, a photographer could command the camera to record the smell of the scene, embedding it with the visual image that it captured. The ability to add smells to photographs would need to be optional, though ... adding smells to a photograph of food or a field of flowers would be great, but adding smells to photographs of the monkey house at the zoo might not be desireable.

4. Unlimited Battery Power

Today's rechargeable batteries in digital cameras are as powerful as they've ever been, allowing at least a few hundred photographs per charge. However, Kikukawa asks, what if you could charge the camera automatically as you're using it, without the need to be plugged into an electrical outlet?

The camera of the future could incorporate some sort of solar energy cell, allowing the battery to either operate only from solar power or allowing it to charge the battery using the solar cell.

Some questions would have to be answered first, such as how much the solar cell would add to the size of the camera. Still, though, it would be nice to have a built-in solution to prevent the problem of a dead battery.

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