In the fourth and final post on our Future of Imaging Report, we look at the growing desire for self-expression through live visualisation and the possibility to analyse images and the people in them.
An image-based world
We are living in an increasingly image-based society. The digital era has made capturing images easier than ever before, and also more popular. In 2014, it’s estimated that nearly 1 trillion photographs were taken- that’s about 150 photographs per person on the planet in one year alone. Today, photographic proof has so penetrated our society that it is considered mandatory evidence for everything from scientific discoveries to friendly debates on Facebook.
Every moment is photographed; every situation caught on camera. Imaging devices such as smartphones, tablets and smart cameras are becoming vehicles for our interpersonal relationships at every level. Photography is a shared language and everybody wants to be fluent. But how much further can the technology of photography take us?
Capture Every Moment
In the future it is expected that we will capture and record every aspect of our lives. Demand for agile, flexible cameras with always-on point-of-view image capture continues to grow. There are already lightweight, durable devices on the market designed to enable “always on” visual narration. These highly portable, wearable devices will evolve to be worn seamlessly and help document our lives and surroundings at all times. With storage capabilities increasing rapidly and faster wireless connections, these devices will shrink in size and could transfer images and video continuously to a nearby storage unit.
Why would we use these? Well, picture an afternoon playing with your kids in the garden. You will be able to continuously record everything without having to think about it or worse– miss a moment by trying to capture it. Tiny, lightweight ‘swarm’ devices working in harmony like a swarm of bees will use spontaneous, hands-free image capture to do the work for you. You can now capture family moments like never before, creating a visceral documentary of your children’s development that offers previously unmatched levels of interactivity. This only raises the question – what can you do with this new wave of audio-visual records?
Nikon expects that always-on photography will form a vital part of our quantified world and self. One of the greatest shifts in personal technology is the growth of the ‘quantified self’ movement, where people use multiple devices to measure data of their day-to-day lives or biomedical situation.
But this applies for the world around us too. Drones and ‘swarm’ technology can be used to monitor our environment and ecology remotely, offering opportunities to explore and photograph areas of our planet that few humans can reach.
The sheer amount of visual data will change the way in which we use images. Facial recognition is one important technology that is progressing rapidly. In the future, it is expected that we will be able to identify and analyse people’s faces from a distance, in crowds or in difficult or imperfect conditions. Existing facial recognition technology developed by Professor Alessandro Acquisti of Carnegie Mellon University can already link people to their Facebook profiles within 3 seconds using just one photograph.
Currently there are studies into how photographs can read what our faces say about our health, or identify personality traits. This also applies to inanimate objects. There are already mobile apps available which allow people to snap a picture of any object and use image recognition to quickly identify it. Love that new designer table your friend has? Quickly take a snap, buy it online, and have it delivered to your door the next day.
These new technologies will change the way we consume photography on a daily basis. Our series of blog posts has already detailed some of the opportunities lying ahead of us. Future cameras will read your emotions to let you take the perfect snaps. You can experience your last holiday all over again with multi-sensory images perhaps even compiled into full-virtual replays, or get rid of nasty headaches through visual healing.
The future of imaging is an open-ended realm of possibilities. You can read more about some of the future technology Nikon expects in our full Future of Imaging Report.