Feature Article

January 03, 2013

A Billion New Cameras in 2012, And in Unlikely Places

Recently released reports from ABI Research say that there are a lot more cameras in play now than there were at the start of 2012. Thanks to the massive growth of smartphones and tablets, including those devices that include not only front-facing but also rear-facing cameras, more than one billion new cameras were shipped in the year 2012.

Most of the new cameras shipped in smartphones and tablets have held resolutions around eight megapixels. There have been some clear exceptions: in two-camera devices, for example, one camera is generally much lower in resolution, and some smartphones, like the Nokia PureView 808, have gone in for higher resolutions. While it's common to see these devices used to take quick snapshots of children at play, pets in the midst of funny moments, or friends out on the town, many other uses have rapidly come into play for this multitude of new cameras.

Advances in augmented reality are being driven mainly by cameras, and gesture recognition--a control scheme often regarded as the future of device interface--pretty much can't go anywhere without a camera of the proper resolution to back it up. Putting cameras into mobile devices, meanwhile, offers access to a variety of new mobile services, like video conferencing and collaboration.

While this is impressive enough--a billion new cameras out--the numbers are only going to get more staggering the farther along we go. Further reports from ABI Research indicate that, in 2018, the number of cameras shipped will nearly triple from one billion this year to a massive 2.7 billion then. Of that number, fully 80 percent of them will be in smartphones, as more smartphones come to include the front-facing cameras often found on tablets today. With those growing camera numbers is also likely to follow greater increases in development for video conferencing and gesture recognition, a fact that ABI Research also points out, saying that fully 230 million smartphones are expected to offer some kind of gesture recognition capability in 2015 alone.

Gesture recognition is definitely a growing field. Given that only recently it was discovered that Asus would be joining in with Leap Motion to bring out a line of motion controls for Asus' lines of laptops and all-in-one PCs, there's a case for growth beyond the study suggestions from ABI Research. Moreover, Leap Motion has plans to bring their line of gesture recognition systems to smartphones as well, giving ABI Research's assertions a lot more weight.

More cameras on mobile devices definitely looks to be a growing trend, and in the near future, we're likely to not only see more people with cameras on hand, but also more people with camera-related functions on their smartphones as well, like video conferencing, augmented reality, and of course, gesture controls.

Edited by Brooke Neuman

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