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… a new one just begun

The Nikon Z9, released at the end of December 2021 heralds a new era in photography: Computational Photography. Spearheaded by smartphones is now getting ready to become pervasive and change the meaning of image capture. Image credit: Nikon

In December last year (that was not a long time ago, was it?) I was asked to name one technology that I would expect to make an impact in 2022 and I chose Computational Photography. Yes, I know, there are several technologies that are fancier, starting with Quantum Computing that has been on prediction radars for several years now  and that, like Fusion Energy, keeps making steps forward but still remain a thing for the future.

Gartner has compiled a list of 5 technology areas that should be kept under the prediction radar for 2022:

  • Smart Spaces
  • Homomorphic Encryption
  • Generative AI
  • Graph technologies
  • Metaverse

Others, like Forbes, are placing the focus on Digital Twins, use of AI by hackers, integration of siloed data, hybrid working optimisation, increased workplace automation, Digital Transformation, omni-channel customer support and so on.

I plan to address a few of these in following post.

For now let me place my bet on Computational Photography. It has developed really fast and adopted by smartphones to make up for the lower grade optics and small image sensors. In doing so it has been able to achieve a photo quality that is in many cases au pair with the best reflex cameras costing many times more and way way bulkier.

Now it is ready to make the jump into professional cameras. The new Nikon Z9, arrived on the market in a few Countries on December 23rd 2021 and by first quarter 2022 in many more Countries, is the first professional camera without a mechanical shutter. Everything takes place in the sensor, electronically, and data are processed by a (very powerful) chip to create an image from the data harvested by the sensor. The camera has the capability to freeze images at 1/32,000 of a second and can pick up 120 photos per second. These snapshots can be processed (potentially) to create a single image through computational photography. It is a new world opening up, redefining what we mean by photography. We are no longer capturing what our eyes can see, we go well beyond and a software “decides” what kind of image shall be displayed to our eyes.

I predict that during 2022 we will be seeing a significant evolution of computational photography, in terms of performance, of imagination (what we can do with it) and in terms of application to a variety of fields, from industry to entertainment.

Talking about predictions, I think you will find very interesting the IEEE Computer Society Report that was prepared in 2014 with the aim at looking at what technologies will make an impact in 2022. They identified 23 technologies (read the report) and I should say I am impressed for the accuracy of their predictions. You may want to watch the clip with Dejan (at the time Computer Society President) explaining the report. They predicted Sustainability, 3D chip architecture, Multicore, HPC, Big Data Analytics, Machine Learning, Computer Vision, Robotic Medicine, Computational Biology, Cloud Computing, Software Defined Networks. All of them are mainstream in 2022. Really impressive.

They also predicted Quantum Computers but as I said, it is still at the end of the rainbow.

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the New Initiative Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He is a member of the IEEE in 2050 Ad Hoc Committee. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.