During the past five years we have seen a steady growth of innovations on the digital camera front. The pace of innovation has far from slowed and here is a summary of which gadgets you might consider next.
As consumers we have been quick in embracing devices where the camera and its advanced technology play a key role. The camera in smartphones has developed into the 20MP/4K territory with advanced HDR, slow-motion and-time lapse capabilities. Action cameras have been embraced by the young generation as well as their parents. Life logs are introduced but have not yet propelled into a mass market phenomena. The digital SLR stays relevant behind powerful lenses thanks to very high picture resolution and networked capabilities. The point-and-shoot market continues to tumble (and is not the prime vehicle behind Tumblr pictures).
Infrared camera modules
Infrared pictures have always fascinated people. But the devices have been pricey and more targeted to professional applications. This is about to change, as new thermal camera innovations hit the market. Some are stand-alone cameras for outdoor use. Others are small modules connected to your smartphone.
With a thermal camera module attached to your phone you can start exploring a new world. Play with new pictures types where you can spot if someone has been sitting on a food court chair recently. Look out from the balcony at the resort and check the water and sand temperature in the morning. If you have thermal leaks in your house, just point the camera towards the window and you will get a crisp view of the situation. Both professional and advanced amateur applications can be seen – all enabled by thermal image technology at new price points.
360 degree cameras
The action camera market is moving beyond the field of the action hero or camera carrier. Action cameras with a 360 degree view of the action are introduced by multiple vendors. At the same time 360 degree cameras are available for security applications. Up until now, 360 degree movies have been created from a frame hosting multiple cameras and advanced software to stich it all together.
The application space for 360 degree action cameras might be a niche or the mainstream preference for action cameras going forward. The surround view is attractive to action adventure explorers as well as advanced commercial shooting.
Camera drones are rapidly gaining traction. A broad variety of drones are available and prices are coming down to consumer levels.
News photographers are using drones to capture new perspectives. Sports TV producers have many clear use cases for new camera angles but the drone reliability need to be improved for a broader adoption. Consumers kite experiences can be taken to new heights by cutting the wire and adding a camera.
Object tracking cameras
The last category addressed here is cameras tracking a given object. These come in two shapes. Either a small unit allowing a moving object to steer a stationary camera and trigger shutter release. The second option is a drone-like camera that can follow its master, like a skier going down a hill.
As for action cameras, this category is very much about capturing action moments in new innovative ways. And as for action cameras, the creativity boundary of the photographer and the producer has been moved to new frontiers.
Predictions for the future
Photographers and videographers have new tools at their fingertips and the following are my predictions for the future
Thermal photography will remain a niche, but will make inroads in many new industrial applications.
360 degree cameras will remain a complement to the mainstream action cameras, but will open up new possibilities for VR applications.
Drones have a strong user appeal but the reliability and air traffic control issues are likely to hold back adoption below the consumer appeal.
Tracking cameras are a new invention that is hardest to predict.