When Sony Sees the Smartphone as the Product Partner in your Pocket. #innovation

August 13, 2013

in General Interest, innovation, Mobility


Our interactions with physical products are increasingly being partnered with the device in our pocket. This Sony lens is another signal that our mobile screens and computing power don’t need duplicating with every device we use. I like this example more for the experimentation and innovation implied, than seeing it as a sure bet for success. Sony’s new lenses will use the screen of your smartphone and turn it into a more sophisticated point n shoot. In time I expect even more processing may be done by the smartphone. While this clash is happening in photography we see others – “remotes” in the living room, infotainment in the car, fitness and medical devices emerging, and more.

Category by category our interactions with physical products are increasingly being partnered with the device in our pocket. In some cases this brings down the cost – (the Sony lens must work better than both the smartphone and a point and shoot and potentially be cheaper) and in others it increases the utility (infotainment, TV screens etc). It’s also going to be a pain when the phone is out of juice. Also worth considering how voice commands may work. “Ok Google Now – Sony…..” Hat-tip to Gigaom for pointing me to explore this development.

Lens-camera: What you see on these images are the DSC-QX10 and DSC-QX100 lenses. Actually these are not normal lenses! They have built-in sensor, Bionz processor, Wifi/NFC wireless connection and SD card slot. These lenses have no LCD screen and no usual camera controls. You will be able to control them through your smart phone or tablet (via WiFi or NFC). The lenses can be magnetically attached on your smartphone and it works on both, Android and iOS devices. That is nothing like we have seen before. For the first time you can shoot top quality images with your smartphone. Forget these iPhone or Android lens kits!  via (SR5) Hot! First images of the new DSC-QX10 and DSC-QX100 lens-cameras!


Some thoughts I’m curious about.

  • Will devices like these be able to piggyback on the smartphone’s power supply? If you can charge a phone by touching a pad, can that same tech work in reverse? I presume the Sony lens above requires its own power and recharging which will reduce convenience.
  • Can’t tell from the picture if there is a “flash” solution with this lens. Flash obviously has power requirements. No flash – means a huge usage occasion will be missed. (night and party shots).
  • This is a real example of a product that requires an adaptor. Thus it may be limited in the number of devices it can be used with. I also see that as a problem with upgrade cycles. If phones stay at 2 years or less even three years it may be hard to move your lens upgrades at that rate or justify them.  Will the adapter have a flash hotshoe?
  • The price may be in the $500-600+ range. Which means they have to be a very good lens and that shrinks the market dramatically.
  • Where’s the neckstrap? There seems to be no thinking about the pose of the photographer. While point n shoots typically had a hand strap, upgrading your smartphone to a touristy hang from the neck could be cool and might also help explain that cameras ringing while the headset is in my ear.
  • Will the lens use the phone’s stabilization features for better shots?

Overall, I doubt this will be really successful as a product approach. There are just too many interruptions and other aspects that happen on our phones. If the lens software provides real innovation in photography that can only be done on a smartphone then it’s going to be a compromise when installed and even with small lens systems like Olloclip (which I had for a iPhone4 and gave away when I got my 5) there’s an on off thing that goes on. Unless putting a lens on really puts you in vacation mood!

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