Moving from Slow to Intelligent Photography

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Nov 7, 2013

InfoTrends recently published the Capture-enabled Devices: A New Market Segmentationreport and an associated blog, which describes our thoughts on how the imaging market will develop in the near future. The capture market is now divided into four segments: Slow Photography, Casual Photography, Fast Photography, and Intelligent Photography. Intelligent photography is the segment that we believe represents the most growth opportunities in the future.

Photography is undergoing rapid changes. InfoTrends believes that the digital camera market has finally entered the era of “connected photography” this year (40% of new cameras announced so far include a Wi-Fi feature); leaving behind the “digital photography” era, which was mostly a film replacement phase. Many consumers started using connected smart devices in 2007, when Apple released the first iPhone. Intelligent photography is the stage that follows connected photography.

As central processing unit (CPU) capacity increases in power and capabilities, the speed of change increases. This requires that players in the market have a culture and willingness to embrace change. The following chart shows how the photographic market has transitioned since the invention of photography in 1837. In this period technology life cycles have shortened dramatically and the rate of change has increased. Companies that have not traditionally been players in the photography market have entered and displaced established players. InfoTrends expects that intelligent photography devices will be the next disrupting force in this market.

Definition of Intelligent Photography

Intelligent photography falls under the broader umbrella of intelligent imaging and centers around photo capture and associated workflows. The objective of intelligent photography is to create images that have greater value than just the photograph on its own. Intelligence in cameras is the ability to anticipate the needs of users. The driving force behind intelligent photography is automated processes and workflows that improve images as well as help consumers do more with them. This can be achieved through:

  • Metadata embedded in images
  • Adding content to images after they have been captured
  • Enabling meaningful sharing and interactions
  • Automated workflows

Powerful, in-device CPU processing capabilities, graphical processing unit (GPU) capacity, connectivity, and software (apps) are cornerstones of intelligent photography.

Intelligent Camera — A Wish List

Below is a partial wish list of features that InfoTrends believes are required to enable intelligence in cameras. Intelligence comes from software rather than hardware, but the hardware must be able to support the demands of complex software. InfoTrends believes that vendors in this market should emulate the smartphone market where software development kits (SDKs) and application program interfaces (APIs) enable third-parties to develop apps. The process of taking photos needs to be seamless, automated, only require meaningful user interaction, and ultimately produce the photo that the photographer would like to get.

  • Outstanding general computing capacity
  • Connectivity — Wi-Fi, cellular, and NFC
  • Open operating systems and application programming interfaces
  • Open ecosystems
  • Variety of built-in sensors to monitor environment
  • Intelligent power consumption
  • Excellent image quality
  • Privacy controls that can be easily controlled by the user

InfoTrends’ Opinion

Innovation in the consumer electronics market is moving at tremendous speed, which is driven by increases in computing power in mobile devices. Intelligent photography is the next phase for the imaging industry. Legacy vendors need to embrace new opportunities or risk being marginalized by emerging software and hardware players. Software players will be the drivers of future innovation, while changes in hardware will be incremental.

InfoTrends’ Insight report Moving From Slow to Intelligent Photography is available to purchase from InfoTrends’ report store.

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