Архив метки: CES

Camera maker Canon leans into software at CES

Depending on whether you spend most of your time in hospitals, offices or in the great outdoors, when you hear “Canon,” your mind will likely go to medical scanning equipment, high-end printers or cameras. At CES this year, the 85-year-old company is leaning in a new direction, with an interesting focus on software applications.
At the show, the imaging giant showed off a direction it has been hinting at before, but this time relying far less on its own hardware, and more on the software the company has developed, in part as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic casting a shadow over people’s ability to connect. To the chorus of “meaningful communication” and “powerful collaboration,” the Japanese imaging giant appears to be plotting out a new course for what’s next.

I guess you can (officially) use your fancy Canon camera as a webcam studio now

“Canon is creating ground-breaking solutions that help people connect in more ways than we ever could have imagined, redefining how they work and live at a time when many of them are embracing a hybrid lifestyle,» said Kazuto Ogawa, president and CEO, Canon U.S.A., Inc, in a press briefing at CES 2023. “Canon’s ultimate role is to bring people closer together by revealing endless opportunities for creators. Under our theme of ‘Limitless Is More,’ we will show CES 2023 attendees what we are creating as a company focused on innovation and a world without limits.”
Among other things, Canon showed off a somewhat gimmicky immersive experience tied in with M. Night Shyamalan’s upcoming thriller movie, “Knock at the Cabin.” The very Shyamalanesque movie trailer will give you a taster of the vibe. At the heart of things, however, Canon is tapping into a base desire in humanity; to feel connected to one another. The company is desperate to show off how its solutions can “remove the limits humanity faces to create more meaningful communication,” through four technologies it is showing off at the trade show this year.
Canon U.S.A. CEO Kevin Ogawa on stage at CES 2023 along with M. Night Shyamalan. Image Credits: Haje Kamps/TechCrunch
3D calling: Kokomo
The flagship solution Canon is showing off is Kokomo, which the company describes as a first-of-its-kind immersive VR software package. It is designed to combine VR with an immersive calling experience. The solution is pretty elegant: Using a VR headset and a smartphone, the Kokomo software enables users to see and hear one another in real time with their live appearance and expression in a photo-real environment.
The Kokomo solution brings 3D video calling to a home near you. Image Credits: Canon
In effect, the software package scans your face to learn what you look like, then turns you into a photo-realistic avatar. The person you are in a call with can see you — sans VR headset — showing your physical appearance and facial expressions. The effect is to experience a 3D video call. At the show, Canon is demoing the tech by letting visitors step into a 1×1 conversation with the “Knock at the Cabin” characters.
We spoke with the team behind Kokomo to figure out how the project came about, why Canon is dipping its toe in standalone software, what the future of this technology is, and how it is going to make money.

With Kokomo VR meeting software, Canon takes a step away from its hardware roots

Realtime 3D video: Free Viewpoint
Aimed at the sports market, Free Viewpoint is a solution that combines more than 100 high-end cameras with a cloud-based solution that makes it possible to move a virtual camera to any location. The software takes all the video feeds, creating a point-cloud-based 3D model that enables a virtual camera operator to create a number of angles that would otherwise have been impossible: Drone-like replay footage, swooping into the action, for example, or detailed in-the-thick-of-things-type footage, enabling viewers to see plays from the virtual perspective of one of the players.
In the U.S., the system has already been installed at two NBA arenas (including at the home of the Cavaliers and the Nets). The video can be broadcast live or compiled into replay clips. Canon also points out that the system enables “virtual advertising and other opportunities for monetization,” so I suppose we have that to look forward to as well.

Canon takes tentative step towards eliminating photographers with robotic PICK camera

Returning to the “Knock at the Cabin” theme, at CES, Canon showed off a virtual action scene captured with the Free Viewpoint video system, captured at Canon’s Volumetric Video Studio in Kawasaki, Japan. The effect of watching an action scene “through the eyes” of various characters was a wonderfully immersive experience.
Augmented reality tech: MREAL
Canon also showed off some earlier-stage tech that isn’t quite ready for prime-time viewing yet, including MREAL. This is tech that helps integrated simulation-like immersive worlds, merging the real and the virtual worlds. Use cases might include pre-visualization for movies, training scenarios and interactive mixed-reality entertainment. The company tells TechCrunch that the technology is in the market research phase.
The company is trying to figure out what to develop further and how to market the product. In other words: Who would use this, what would they use it for and what would they be willing to pay for it.

Augmented reality’s half-decade of stagnation

Remote presence: AMLOS
Activate My Line of Sight (AMLOS) is what Canon is calling its solution for hybrid meeting environments, where some participants are in person, while others are off-site. If you’ve ever been in a meeting in that configuration, you’ll often find that attending remotely is a deeply frustrating experience, as the in-person meeting participants are engaging with each other while the remote attendees are off on a screen somewhere.
Canon hopes that AMLOS can help solve that; it’s a software-and-camera set of products aiming to improve the level of engagement. It adds panning, tilting and zooming capabilities to remote camera systems, giving remote users the ability to customize their viewing and participation experience. So far, the solution is not quite intuitive enough to overcome the barrier of not being in the room, but it’s certainly better than being a disembodied wall of heads on a screen.

Camera maker Canon leans into software at CES by Haje Jan Kamps originally published on TechCrunch
Camera maker Canon leans into software at CES

Rollables are the new foldables

Smartphone sales are bad — and have been for a couple of years now. Certainly this ongoing pandemic hasn’t helped. All the talk about how 5G and new form factors were going to cause a kind of bounce-back all fell by the wayside, as people put a pause on unnecessary luxuries.
Samsung is the only company that’s seen some success with the foldable form factor, and that whole thing got off to a…rough start. There were plenty of technical issues at first, leading to a less than auspicious first impression. These days, price continues to be a major hurdle — especially during a time when paying $1,000 and up on a phone is a major red flag for many.
In the world of phone form factors, two is, at the very least, the start of a trend. And on day one of CES both LG and TCL have offered their take on yet another form factor designed to offer more screen real estate in pocketable devices.

Image Credits: TCL

LG’s product is — for the moment — the more notable of the two, largely because the company plans to actually release the thing. In an interview published this morning, spokesperson Ken Hong told Nikkei, “As it is released at CES 2021, I can tell that it will be launched this year.”
And, indeed, LG’s a company not afraid to take chances with a wacky form factor. There are a number of examples of the phenomenon in recent years, most notably the swiveling screen on the LG Wing.
Still, the product didn’t amount to much more than a brief tease during a press conference (an excuse to transition between scenes, really), so you’d be forgiven for assuming that the tech still has a long way to go.
TCL, meanwhile, noted up front that the product is still firmly in the concept phase, but managed to give us a better look. I suppose it’s easier to parade concept than an unfinished real-world product. Details are still slim, but the company says the device is capable of expanding from 6.7 to 7.8 inches.
One imagines — or, at least, hopes — that the industry has learned from the issues stemming from the first batch of foldables. Sometimes the race to bring technology to market results in delivering something half-baked, an issue that came back to bite companies like Samsung and Motorola. Lab testing is one thing — the real world is a different thing entirely.

Rollables are the new foldables

Samsung’s next Unpacked event is January 14

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Samsung’s next flagship is set to debut January 14. The company just confirmed earlier rumors surrounding the date for its next Unpacked event (virtually, of course). This one sports the name, “Welcome to the Everyday Epic.”
“Over the past year, mobile technology has taken center stage in everyday life as people are working remotely and spending more time at home,” the company writes. “The accelerated transition to a mobile-first world brings with it the need for devices that can transform everyday life into an extraordinary experience.”
The event’s timing is an interesting artifact of 2021’s wacky show scheduling, with the COVID-19 pandemic still very much being front of mind. Past Unpackeds were generally timed around Mobile World Congress. That show has been delayed until the summer, however, in hopes of returning to an in-person event. So Samsung has opted to kickstart sales a month or so earlier this year.

In fact, the event is a mere days after CES. Gone are the days a gadget journalist could take a few days to decompress after the year’s biggest hardware show. It also, perhaps, doesn’t bode well for Samsung’s announcements during CES itself (though the electronics giant has more than enough divisions to keep its presence at the show interesting).

Another odd change this year is the fact that you can already reserve the S21, sight unseen. There’s little doubt it will be a solid phone, though there are plenty of questions around how the company will up the ante in the era of flagging smartphone sales. The leaks so far have been kind of underwhelming, though Samsung’s usually got a couple of fun surprises up its sleeve.
We’ve already seen enough of the Galaxy Buds Pro that they don’t qualify as a surprise, exactly. But the company has a solid enough track record with earbuds that there’s reason to be excited. The AirPods Pro competitors are are said to be priced at a reasonable $199.

Samsung hasn’t announced the Galaxy S21 yet, but you can already reserve one

Samsung’s next Unpacked event is January 14

2021 holds even more Samsung foldables

The foldable category got off to a famously rocky start. Fifteen months after the release of the first Galaxy Fold, Samsung has had time to work out some of the issues with the original device, giving the world the better-received Galaxy Z Flip and Z Fold 2 this year.
Likely due to various stumbles from mobile manufacturers, the form factor has yet to redefine the industry in a meaningful way — but meaningful change takes time. And in case there was any doubt surrounding Samsung’s commitment to foldable displays, Mobile president TM Roh penned a letter on the company’s site, noting an expansion of the portfolio next year.
Whether that means an additional device or something more meaningful remains to be seen, though it does seem to suggest the arrival of at least one more affordable model. Price has certainly been a major hurdle for the adoption of these products. In the letter, Roh notes that he/the company will be “sharing more in January” — perhaps an allusion to CES or a standalone Samsung event. Roh adds:

True to our heritage of staying ahead of the curve with trailblazing mobile tech, we’ll be expanding our portfolio of foldables, so this groundbreaking category is more accessible to everyone. And while we’re already known for our revolutionary cameras, we’ll never stop trying to outdo ourselves — so be on the lookout for super-intelligent, pro-grade camera and video capabilities in 2021. We’ve also been paying attention to people’s favorite aspects of the Galaxy Note experience and are excited to add some of its most well-loved features to other devices in our lineup.
Nothing particularly earth-shattering. With the race to 5G devices in the rear-view, the focus is seemingly back on cameras, in addition to folding screens. More after the holidays, no doubt.

Samsung’s new Galaxy Fold arrives September 18 for $2,000


2021 holds even more Samsung foldables

2020 will be a moment of truth for foldable devices

Phones were not the centerpiece at the recently wrapped Consumer Electronics Show; I’ll probably repeat this point a few more times over the course of this piece, just so we’re clear. This is due, in no small part, to the fact that Mobile World Congress has mostly usurped that role.
There are always a smattering of announcements at CES, however. Some companies like to get out ahead of the MWC rush or just generally use the opportunity to better spread out news over the course of the year. As with other categories, CES’s timing positions the show nicely as a kind of sneak preview for the year’s biggest trends.
A cursory glance at the biggest smartphone news from the show points to the continuation of a couple of key trends. The first is affordability. Samsung leads the pack here with the introduction of two “Lite” versions of its flagship devices, the Galaxy S10 and Note 10. The addition of the line lent some confusion to Samsung’s strategy amongst a handful of tech analysts around where precisely such devices would slot in the company’s portfolio.

2020 will be a moment of truth for foldable devices