Nikon announced three new compact digital cameras this morning. The first is the COOLPIX P7000, a competitor to the Canon G11 (and possibly G12 soon). This is a prosumer level 10.1 megapixel (CCD) camera that allows you to shoot in RAW with all sorts of manual controls. It can also record HD video (720p) at 24 fps, and has an ISO range up to 6400. Additional plusses are a 3-inch LCD screen and an optical viewfinder. The camera will arrive later this month at a price of $500. Read more…
The replacement to Nikon’s COOLPIX S1000pj, which already has a unique projection mode to display still photographs, is rumored to move beyond the stills and into video. French photography magazine, Chasseur d’Images, reports that Nikon might even take it a step further by including a video input which will allow the camera to function as a conventional projector when hooked up to a computer — and perhaps an iPad or other devices.
Currently, the S1000pj has a projection size of 5 to 40 inches, which is plenty of real estate for sharing photos. As both a point-and-shoot camera and an extremely compact conventional projector, the S1000pj upgrade might prove to be a handy piece of equipment.
The Nikon Coolpix site now features an interesting tool for viewing photos, utilizing the viewer’s webcam and hand motions to flip through and zoom in and out of images. (Think: that one Spielberg film with Tom Cruise…)
Virtual Touch Experience is a clever ad campaign designed by MRM Worldwide for Nikon’s touch screen Coolpix S70. According to the press release, it’s supposed to emulate the touch screen experience of the camera, as well as Nikon’s emphasis on the human element/touch in photography.
Though Virtual Touch Experience isn’t something you might actually integrate into routine photo viewing, (personally, my arm got really tired, and then I felt a little silly), it’s an interesting idea to make photos more interactive.
We’re curious to see if photo viewing and sorting could go the way of physical interactivity using hardware motion sensors like Nintendo Wii or Microsoft’s Project Natal someday.
Whenever she took photos of herself or her family members, the camera would prompt, “Did somebody blink?”
Time.com did a balanced follow-up on the issue, noting that several technologies have problems with face detection on people with non-Caucasian features, much in the same way early speech recognition software had difficulty recognizing different accents.
Time explains how face detection works:
The principle behind face detection is relatively simple, even if the math involved can be complex. Most people have two eyes, eyebrows, a nose and lips — and an algorithm can be trained to look for those common features, or more specifically, their shadows. (For instance, when you take a normal image and heighten the contrast, eye sockets can look like two dark circles.) But even if face detection seems pretty straightforward, the execution isn’t always smooth.
And why Wang’s eyes may have been more difficult to detect:
The blink problem Wang complained about has less to do with lighting than the plain fact that her Nikon was incapable of distinguishing her narrow eye from a half-closed one. An eye might only be a few pixels wide, and a camera that’s downsampling the images can’t see the necessary level of detail.
HP’s face tracking technology on the HP Pavillion webcam had its share of problems as well:
However, Time was unable to get an entirely straight answer out of the companies as to how and why their products were released before realizing the problem. Nevertheless, thanks to the power of customer complaint and the viral nature of online griping, Nikon and HP say they are working to improve their product:
Perhaps in this market of rapidly developing technologies, consumers who fork over a few hundred dollars for the latest gadget are the test market. [...] With the flurry of consumer complaints out there, most of the companies seem to be responding. HP has offered instructions on how to adjust its webcam’s sensitivity to backlighting. Nikon says it’s working to improve the accuracy of the blink-warning function on its Coolpix cameras. (Sony wouldn’t comment on the performance of its Cyber-shot cameras and said only that it’s “not possible to track the face accurately all the time.”)
Still, this begs to question what the flaw might be in how products are tested, by whom and with whom.