The Next Step in Intelligent Imaging is About a Foot

Alan Bullock
Mar 5, 2015

InfoTrends estimates that consumers worldwide will take about one trillion photos in 2015 – and that doesn’t even include the ones that are deleted right away. As a result, users of smartphones, digital cameras, tablets, action cameras, lifelogging cameras, and other picture-taking devices are accumulating massive collections of photos and videos. Keeping them organized so that memories of a person, place, or event can be easily located when desired is a daunting task.

For some time now, we have been following developments in Intelligent Imaging that seek to address this problem. Technology from Google, Microsoft, and others promises to go beyond basic metadata (date, time, location) to analyze the content of photos. These processes will group photos together by event, subject, scenery, objects, and recognized faces, making it easier than ever to search for (and find!) the important ones. No question, the technology is impressive. It will add value to otherwise mundane backup and storage services and will generate incremental revenue from the sale of photo prints and custom photo products – after all, you can’t print what you can’t find!

But on a greater scale, the benefits of Intelligent Imaging reach far beyond finding a picture of Cousin Billy from “that summer at the beach.” There are numerous examples of images and imaging technology being used to help people, and another fascinating one hit the newswire last week.

A research team at Michigan Technological University has developed an artificial vision system for a prosthetic ankle. A built-in camera provides a live feed to a computer-controlled actuator, which, based on its view of where the user’s next step will be, instantly adjusts the ankle’s angle and stiffness for optimal safety and comfort.

This real-time scene analysis recognizes and adapts to changes in terrain, stairs, and inclines, delivering real quality-of-life improvements to those who need it most.
Am I suggesting that the imaging industry forget about finding cousin Billy at the beach? Not at all. Developments in Intelligent Imaging will provide benefits to a wide variety of consumer, enterprise, and medical markets, and advances in one area will no doubt find application in others. The possibilities are limitless and each represents a big step forward – sometimes literally.


InfoTrends’ Imaging Innovators Service covers devices, software / services, and applications that are driving the growth of intelligent imaging. Clients benefit from a variety of reports, forecasts, and analysis that can guide and inform strategic planning and marketing decisions. For more information, please visit our website or contact Matt O’Keefe ( or +1 781.616.2115).

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