Saturday, April 30, 2011

A billion smartphones

Back in 2008, the beginning of this video at ECTV'08 ( Computational Photography: Epsilon to Coded Imaging ) showed Ramesh Raskar highlighting that we then now had 1 billion cameras sold every year from near zeros fifteen years earlier. He also mentioned that back then the highest growth market was that of lower resolution chips being used in your computer mouse. That was 2008. Three years later, Vladimir Koifman reminds us that more than 1 billion cameras will be sold in phones this year. Out of that market, one wonders how many were iPhones (i.e. they are all the same imaging chip roughly). I found the answer on the interwebs:

This total includes all iPhone models (original, 3G, and 3GS) is based on Apple's announcements and numbers are approximate. I'll update this figure whenever Apple reveals new numbers.
Total iPhones Sold Worldwide
March 2011: 108 million
January 2011: 90 million
April 2010: 50 million
January 2010: 42.4 million
January 2009: 17.3 million
January 2008: 3.7 million

So the question we should be asking ourselves is what can we do with 1 billion GPS-internet-enabled cameras ?

I am not the only one asking, Robert Pless has the same nagging feeling, from his research page:

Questions that have recently kept me awake at night include:
  • Re-purposing sensors: "What if we could use all the worlds webcams as a coherent imaging sensor?"
  • Collaborative Imaging: "What if everyones' camera phone served as an environmental imaging resource?"
  • Health@Home: "What if we can measure (indicators of) health from sensors already in the home?"

Could there be a new business model where you'd be paid by allowing some company to mine your family or Flickr photos (with gps and time information) for weather related information ? What else can you do with a billion gps and internet enabled cameras ?

Of related interest: Image Based Geolocalization and Sensor Network

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