What’s the Future of Imaging?

6SightFutureofImagingUndertstanding what’s next for imaging is important for anyone who earns a living from visual communications, because rapid advances in imaging technologies can either profoundly disrupt existing business models or create exciting new opportunities. Helping imaging businesses remain aware of emerging technologies is a key goal of the 6Sight Future of Imaging Conference Nov. 10-12 at the Monterey Conference Center in Monterey, CA.

6Sight Conference Chair Alexis Gerard
6Sight Conference Chair Alexis Gerard

In a video on the 6Sight website, conference chair Alexis Girard notes that over the past 20 years, four linked building blocks—computers, image capture devices, the Internet, and wireless telecommunications—have profoundly changed how we all capture and use images.

Together, these linked building blocks have enabled everyone to use visuals in all of our personal and business communications, and in every aspect of our lives. But, Gerard notes, “This infrastructure isn’t static. The more it grows and develops, the more opportunity it creates.”

Here are some of the topics that will be discussed at the 6Sight event:

Computational Photography: Whereas digital photography is essentially an electronic version of film photography, computational photography exploits plentiful low-cost computing and memory with new kinds of digitally enabled sensors, optics, probes, smart lighting and communication to capture information far beyond a simple set of pixels. It promises a richer, multi-layered visual experience that may include depth, fused photo-video representations, or multispectral imagery.

The latest developments in computational photography will be presented by Ramesh Raskar, head of the Camera Culture research group at the Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Raskar says, “I believe we are on the cusp of significant technical and conceptual changes in how we view and practice imaging.”

3D Imaging: Now that Hollywood is moving aggressively into 3D movies, TV manufacturers are rushing to offer 3D-capable screens to bring that content home. At the same time, major technology advances are revolutionizing 3D image capture and lenticular printing. Speakers from Fujifilm, THX, Adobe and HumanEyes and other industry experts will discuss the challenges and opportunities related to bringing 3D into the consumer mainstream.

For example, now that 3D imaging capabilities are available in Adobe Photoshop CS4 Extended and being taught at conferences such as Photoshop World, will more professional photographers and artists start exploring its creative possibilities? Lenticular artist Bonny Lhotka will discuss some of the thought processes that go into creating 3D artwork, citing examples from a collection of her lenticular art prints that will be displayed at the Monterey Conference Center’s Alvarado Gallery.

Artist Bonny Lhotka has already produced 3D and motion prints for office and spa décor projects. Shown here is an image that will be displayed in the Alvarado Gallery.
Artist Bonny Lhotka has already produced 3D and motion prints for office and spa décor projects. This is one of the prints that will be featured in the Conference Center gallery.

The Rise of the Amateur: Thanks to better cameras and continuing improvements in the ability to share and sell images online, what was once a niche amateur photography market is exploding into a mass-market for personal expression. A panel of industry executives will discuss challenges and opportunities for monetizing amateur content.

On-Demand Printing Opportunities: Rick Smolan, who created the Day in the Life and America 24/7 books will report on “The Obama Time Capsule,” his experiment in which every photo book is different for every book buyer.  And imaging technology expert Scott Brownstein will talk about “Bridging the Gap to the New Output Opportunity,” focusing on some of the technology challenges that must be solved in order to enable mass-market, image-rich document creation and production

The Future of Photography: Large-format landscape photographer and digital imaging pioneer Stephen Johnson will help conference attendees envision the future of photography. He will talk about the digital cameras of tomorrow, the future of digital imaging, and the broad possibilities of photography itself. 

The complete program is posted on the 6Sight website.

If some of the topics discussed at 6Sight seem a bit esoteric, Alexis Gerard raises one other point in his online video: It’s only been 7 or 8 years since the first commercial camera phone hit the market. All you have to do is look at your iPhone to realize how quickly new imaging technologies can develop and reshape business opportunities.

The 6Sight Imaging Conference is organized by Future Image, PMA, and AIE, the Association of Imaging Executives.  Most of the content is geared toward executives of companies that develop imaging hardware and software. The more practical business opportunities and marketing implications of some of the emerging technologies discussed at the 6Sight conference are usually examined in more detail at sessions at the PMA and DIMA (Digital Imaging Marketing Association) Conferences held in the spring.  The 2010 DIMA Conference will be held Feb. 20-21 in Anaheim, CA, followed by the 2010 PMA Conference and Trade Show Feb. 21-23.