There is a great deal of speculation about the future of photographic technology and how innovation is changing the way in which we not only take pictures but how we see the world. There is no question that the smartphone revolution, combined with social media, has fundamentally altered the landscape of conventional photography.
Recently, Nathan Myhrvold, Microsoft’s first chief technology officer and the best selling "Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking" was interviewed in The New Yorker about the importance of science and technology in the world. While Myhrvold toyed around making pictures of a muffin with a 41 megapixel Nokia smartphone it seemed clear that his attitude toward photography was different. Myhrvold seems to understand how technology influences a viewer's perspective and experience. He's able to make interesting images becuase understands how things work and that is important to beyond any emotional hangups we might have with antecedent practices and conventions. While making images of the muffin, especially after pulling a flashlight out of his pocket to light the scene, it was clear that Myhrvold appreciates how technology, resourcefulness, and aesthetics comes together in remarkable ways.
Within the next five years, the wearable technology market will be worth more than $51 billion. At the top of the list will most likely be devices such as Google's glass -- a light-weight pair of glasses that are capable of capturing images with the wink of an eye.
Giving People what they want
Kimio Maki, the head of Sony’s digital camera division, provides a few clues into the future of photographic technology. Maki, who is a leader in mirrorless full-frame cameras, believes that one of the challenges manufacturers face is the shape of conventional-style cameras, which tend to be clunky and heavy. He notes that consumers want slimmer, lighter cameras, but the industry has been slow in responding. In addition, the second challenge facing the photography industry is in the development of new products for the smartphone market. Part of the problem, Maki notes, is how consumers do not seem to understand the tradeoffs between lightweight mobile technologies and image quality.
There is always a gap between technological innovation and public acceptance of new products. At the same time, it appears that this gap be rapidly closing due to the number of innovations across the board, from medical technologies to social media.
In the world of professional photography, technology is seen as a means to an end. Nevertheless, once an innovation takes hold it can have a major impact on the rest of the market.