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StaffIncremental BloggerIf you met me and you asked about computers of the future,...

If you met me and you asked about computers of the future, I’d talk about cameras

I keep coming back to the notion that digital cameras should be running “full OSes” or at least OSes that the vast number of developers out there can write for.

As we’ve seen, phones have become increasingly more powerful personal computing devices and so do I think SLR cameras should be too.

Closed camera platforms don’t leverage the community as they should.

Digital cameras already have quite a range of software running on them, but as you look forward and envision the cameras being more connected, it makes complete sense for the software capabilities of the cameras themselves to become more sophisticated.

Think about it, with a software customizable camera wedding photographers could run one set of tools on their cameras, nature photographers another, and portrait photorgraphers yet a third set. I can imagine that done right even some of the firmware software could be customized, though to make cameras the most stable this may not be the most common thing to do.

Yet with all of the extensibility a common OS would give people a consistent UI or at least model for thinking in terms of how a camera running such-and-such OS works. Point is people would think more in terms of how the software and OS work on the camera than the camera itself. This makes complete sense down the road as computers running cameras and the capabilities increase.

Am I talking about Windows Embedded, an iPhonish-like permutation of OS X on an SLR or Android or some other mobile Linux? Possibly. I’m not ruling anything in or out. Cameras have special needs because of the speed at which they must operate and process images, however, seems to me there’s compelling value in terms of thinking of cameras as OS-oriented devices.

So my suggestion to Microsoft most of all is to get into the camera business. Start learning how to work with the manufacturers such as Kodak to build more open and extensible camera platforms. Will there be lots of resistance to this? I bet. But once the momentum gets going I don’t think you could hold the innovation back.

Loren Heiny (1961 - 2010) was a software developer and author of several computer language textbooks. He graduated from Arizona State University in computer science. His first love was robotics.

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14 years ago

It would be interesting if camera manufacturers took advantage of the iPhone 3.0. Allowing apps to control the image processing chip in cameras. Similar to apps like CameraBag or Photogene, but manipulating images from DSLR’s.

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