Life and Tech with Robert Scoble #26

Each week, Rackspace futurist Robert Scoble connects with startups and other innovative companies and shares his insights in his free, weekly email newsletter, Life and Tech. This week, he took a look at the cameras being built by, and explains why sometimes thinking outside the box is the best way to innovate and spark new ideas:

Where Nikon and Canon and other manufacturers have set out to perfect the SLR (Single Lens Reflex), and are making row after row of cameras with single lenses, has innovated by using 13 different low-cost sensors and joining those with software.

When cofounder and CTO Rajiv Laroia wanted a new camera, he thought, “Why am I carrying all these lenses?”

He didn’t start out with old assumptions. Of course, he knows technology deeply, he was one of the key players behind LTE, which our mobile phones now use to communicate.

He knew that a new approach to cameras was possible, so he studied optics, but he also looked away from traditional approaches that used a single lens. Instead, he used the R&D of the smartphone world to his advantage.

Every time you shoot an image with his new camera, it joins 10 sensors together thanks to algorithms and lenses that will capture everything from wide angles to telephoto images, in one photo.

I got one of the first looks last week at the Code/Mobile conference that Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher run. Why did I get a first look? I had videoed CEO Dave Grannan on his previous startup and he called me over.

The video I shot has been viewed 3.8 million times:

It’s my most popular video by far, and it shows that putting yourself in play, even in weird places, often brings opportunities all on its own.

Now, some questions still remain. Grannan showed me the images it shot on his laptop. They looked great, but will they stand up against a modern DSLR? I doubt it, at least at first. That point of view though, is missing the point.

This is arguably the future of photography. Will Nikon and Canon have the economic power to improve big sensors more than Google and Apple and the rest of the smartphone industry have? No.

So long term, this “computational photography” camera is the way forward. It won’t be the last one we see, either. Now that we’re headed into a virtual reality world we’ll see many new camera designs.

If you want to read more about what Scoble sees and does each week, sign up for his weekly newsletter.

He reads all his email — — and says responses to the newsletter go to the top of his inbox. You can find him on Facebook, too. Feel free to reach out to him with tech stories or startup news you find cool and interesting.

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