September 10th, 2015

5 of the Coolest Things We Saw at Canon Expo

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Canon gave visitors a unique opportunity to preview some of the technologies it’s currently working to perfect at its Expo, which opened its three-day stint in New York yesterday. Some of the most intriguing prototypes Canon had to show—including a 120-megapixel DSLR, an 8K video camera and 250-megapixel sensor—were announced before the Expo even kicked off. Still, we were able to catch a glimpse at a few other interesting products and technologies under development. Here’s what caught our eye.

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600mm f/1.4 L Lens

Canon revealed that it’s working on a 600mm lens that will incorporate the new BR optics first introduced in the recently announced 35mm f/1.4 lens. Thanks to a combination of BR and DO (diffractive optics) elements, the new 600mm should be about 30 percent lighter than its predecessor. No other details were available.

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Virtual Reality

Canon also showed off a virtual reality headset and 360-degree camera solution for creating virtual reality presentations. Unlike current VR headsets which strap around a user’s head, Canon’s prototype is held up to the face. The display has a 120-degree viewing angle and features two 5×5-inch screens with a resolution of 2560×2880. The omnidirectional camera system combines 24 Vixia mini X camcorders into an array that can record spherical video.

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Smart Home of the Future

Somewhere between a Microsoft PixelSense Table and Minority Report, Canon displayed an interactive table that lets users engage with their photos in novel ways. Using a combination of sensors in the table and IR and other cameras mounted above, any camera placed on the table can have its images instantly displayed across the table’s surface. Users can swipe and pull images to get a better look, flick them across the table toward a TV where they are instantly displayed or drag them to a printer icon where they are made into tangible prints. The table can also bring analog images to life. A Canon rep placed a photo book on the table and the system scanned the images and pulled additional photos with similar tags down from a cloud library to display on the table (more pictures below).

It's hard to tell from this image, but the runner's body is raised about 1-inch or more from the media.

It’s hard to tell from this image, but the runner’s body is raised about 1-inch or more from the media.

Textured Printing

While photo printing on a variety of unique surfaces and substrates is not new, Canon is pushing to give prints a variety of different textures—like glass, wood, leather, snakeskin and more—through a dimensional printing process. The process creates photo prints up to 2-inches thick off the page using a UV curable inkjet press, layered ink and gloss coatings. Canon is already selling a version of textured printing to some of its commercial partners but the process under development will support more textures and greater depths. To our eyes, portraits printed dimensionally didn’t look quite as compelling as abstract patterns or objects like bricks and wood, which also felt startlingly close to the real thing.

Speaking of printers, Canon is also finalizing new photo inkjet printers in 17-, 24- and 44-inch sizes. They’ll use a new 12 pigment ink system, but no other details were available.

In this demo, Canon is recording four 4K streams from its 8K camera, passing it through a debayer box and sending four 4K quadrants into individual external recorders. To construct the 8K footage, the files from each external recorder must be merged in post production.

In this demo, Canon is recording four 4K streams from its 8K camera (which looks like its C300), passing it through a debayer box and sending four 4K quadrants into individual external recorders. To construct the 8K footage, the files from each external recorder must be merged in post production.

8K & HDR

Attendees were treated to a glimpse of 8K video on several displays—from a large movie projection to new 8K reference monitors still in the prototype stage. The footage was recorded with Canon’s new 8K image sensor, which was announced earlier this week. The 8K sensor can produce 35-megapixel still frame grabs from video files and offers 13 stops of dynamic range. As for data rates, 10 minutes of RAW 4K footage off the sensor generates 4TB of data, a Canon spokesperson said.

On prototype 8K reference monitors, the pictures were so sharp that even standing directly in front of the display with our eyes hovering mere inches from the screen and using a magnifying glass, the images looked crystalline and ultra-realistic with no hint of pixelation. The display in question had a pixel density of 300 ppi, which Canon said is about the limit a human eye can even resolve. From a normal viewing distance however, the 8K footage didn’t look noticeably different than 4K.

What was noticeably different from a distance was a high-dynamic range display. Canon showed off a prototype display capable of brightness levels of 2,000 nits. By contrast, the average display delivers roughly 200 nits and the next-generation high dynamic range 4K TVs will achieve between 600-1,000 nits, depending on the model and manufacturer. Using an HDR monitor, users will be able to see more of the image data recorded by today’s high dynamic range cameras.

Here’s a closer look at some of the technology Canon was demoing:

Canon's Smart Home concept. The smart table can use a picture frame to crop digital images.

Canon’s Smart Home concept. The smart table can use a picture frame to crop digital images.

An analog photo book comes to live as similarly tagged images and videos are pulled down from the cloud to the smart table.

An analog photo book comes to life as similarly tagged images and videos are pulled down from the cloud to the smart table.

Mounted above the smart table, a series of cameras and sensors track hand movements and more.

Mounted above the smart table, a series of cameras and sensors track hand movements and more.

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Canon’s spherical image capture solution combines 24 Vixia mini X cameras.

Canon looks poised to refresh its professional inkjet printers. Three models, including this 17-inch mockup, were displayed at the Expo.

Canon looks poised to refresh its professional inkjet printers. Three models, including this 17-inch mockup, were displayed at the Expo.

By layering on the ink and gloss, Canon can create dimensional prints with textures that feel like the real thing.

By layering on the ink and gloss, Canon can create dimensional prints with textures that feel like the real thing.

With textured printing, you can feel the wrinkles and scars of a long life. If you're into that kind of thing.

With textured printing, you can feel the wrinkles and scars of a long life. If you’re into that kind of thing.

January 23rd, 2013

500px App Booted from Apple Store Due to Nudity

TechCrunch is reporting that Apple removed the 500px app from the App Store due to “pornographic images and materials.” Apple says in an official statement that it has “also received customer complaints about possible child pornography” being accessible via the app. This action continues what appears to be Apple’s conservative attitude toward nude imagery, but also raises questions about how far the tech company is willing to go to curb access to photos it deems inappropriate.

The app, which is owned by the photo-sharing site 500px, allows users to access the images hosted on 500px.com via their smartphones. According to the article, Apple flagged a recent update for the app “because it allowed users to search for nude photos.” While this search functionality does exist as part of the update, 500px COO and co-founder Evgeny Tchebotarev tells TechCrunch that precautions were made so that the app would default to a “safe search” mode that would not display nude photos. In order to change the search mode, users would need to access the 500px website and make the change manually.

Tchebotarev says that 500px does not allow its users to post pornography. He notes that many professional photographers and photo enthusiasts use the site, and that there is a difference between artistic nudes and pornography. Currently 500px community members flag inappropriate images, though the company is in the process of developing technology similar to facial recognition software that would automatically flag questionable images.

Apparently, 500px had been working with Apple to make the necessary adjustments to the app update. However, the changes would take at least a day to implement and during the interim Apple chose to pull the app from the App Store. To date, nearly one million users have downloaded the 500px app.

Aside from the usual question about what constitutes “pornography,” we have to wonder how far Apple is willing to go in terms of regulating apps that would allow adults to view nude images. Does this apply to search engines as apps, a la Apple’s own Safari browser? What about popular photo-sharing sites like Instagram and Tumblr, both known to have their fair share of nudity? Furthermore, what about third-party apps such as Flipboard and Google+ that allow their users to easily access 500px’s content?

Related Articles:

PDN Product Review: 500px
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