Are Cameras and Printers Getting Smarter?


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In the past several weeks, there have been lots of new digital imaging products announced, including cameras, camera accessories and printers. What's intriguing is that some claim to have special smart features that can automatically improve picture or print quality, or snap photos. Here are some examples:

Two new Casio point-and-shoots, the EXILIM Zoom EX-Z450 ($200) and EXILIM Zoom EX-Z90 ($150) are taking face detection in a new direction: both include an intelligent autofocus feature, which, in addition to the usual face detection technology, will automatically detect non-human photo subjects and determine the focus and exposure area. So, now your pets, plants and still-life objects can also be perfectly exposed.

Two recent subcompacts, the Samsung TL225 ($350) and Samsung TL220 ($300) include LCDs on the front of camera, which, in my view, isn't all that smart. But Samsung says it uses a Smart Gesture User Interface with built-in gravity sensor, which means that once the camera is on, a simple tap on the front LCD activates it and the camera is automatically set to Self Portrait mode with smile detection. So, if users want to take a self-portrait, they only need to tap and smile, and the picture will be taken automatically without pressing the shutter button.

These Samsungs also use similar motion features found on some Olympus cameras (called Tap technology): Samsung says that by tilting the camera in a certain direction, you can go directly to a different mode or view their saved images. Also, their Smart Face Recognition technology memorizes up to 20 faces and adjusts focus and exposure to the most highly-ranked faces on the camera. It also lets you sort images by registered faces and scroll through to find images of people in your Smart Album instead of having to view every single photo.

Sony introduced a smart camera dock: the Party-shot IPT-DS1 ($150) for two of its most recent point-and-shoots. According to the press release, the dock "pans 360 degrees and tilts 24 degrees, automatically detects faces, adjusts composition and takes photos for you." So now you and your friends can have all your most embarrassing moments automatically caught by your point-and-shoot.

Canon recently introduced a few new printers, including all-in-ones and snapshots. The new models include a smart feature called Auto Photo Fix II, which does for printers what face detection does for cameras: it adjusts brightness and color saturation on the image files before it prints them.

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