Nintendo toy adds 3D camera

In April we noted Nintendo’s announced next-generation handheld video game device — with a 3D display that will not require the player to wear special glasses.

Now the company has demonstrated its 3-DS — and in addition to the 3.5-inch 3D screen, it has not one, not two, but 3 cameras: that is, one rear-facing sensor, and two others that, combined, produce a 3D photo.

The game player has a slider control that sets the distance between the dual images to best suit the viewer’s eyes.

The 3-Ds is not due in North America until next March.

3D Portrait Printing

3DPhotoWorks “creates 3D Portraits in full color” in which “subjects come alive — unlike conventional photographic prints.”

The company says its process converts images into 3D relief sculptures “that blend artisan craftsmanship with contemporary portraiture.”

The product offers a unique alternative to framed photographic prints, the company adds. ‘Soon, customers can decorate their walls with real life sculptural portraits of family and friends.”

The 3D Portraits are available in 15.3 by 23 inches or larger, use archival inks, and have a relief depth of 1.5 inches.

$55 million in 3DTVs sold in U.S.

Revenue from U.S. sales of 3D TVs and 3D-capable Blu-ray players exceeded $55 million in the first three months of availability, reports the NPD Group.

Also, the market research company’s Retail Tracking Service found that perhaps the need to wear special glasses when watching 3D TV is not as significant an inhibitor to adoption of 3D TV at home as once thought. “These glasses can add significant cost and work only with their brand of television,” NPD notes. However, only 10 percent of consumers surveyed cited “looking silly” as a main concern of the glasses, “whereas 41 percent cited not having enough glasses on hand for everyone watching the set.”

“3D TV will be a premium home entertainment experience in 2010,” NPD concludes.

Cheap eye test uses camera phones

This eye test is more affordable than those currently used — and could be more accurate as well.

A simple, cheap, portable device could provide quick eye tests, according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The Netra (Near-Eye Tool for Refractive Assessment) system snaps onto a camera phone. The patient looks into a small lens, and presses the phone’s arrow keys until sets of parallel green and red lines just overlap. This is repeated eight times, with the lines at different angles, for each eye. The whole process takes less than two minutes, at which point software loaded onto the phone provides the prescription data.

The technology takes advantage of the huge improvements over the last few years in the resolution of digital displays and their widespread proliferation on cellphones, even in some of the world’s poorest countries, MIT says.

The snap-on plastic device can cost only a few cents in large quantities.

MIT’s Media Lab team is preparing to conduct clinical trials.

The device is the work of a team that includes Media Lab Associate Professor Ramesh Raskar, who provided the keynote at the 2009 6Sight conference.

Tiffen smoothes small cam’s capture

The small stabilizer ensures smoother video.

iPhone users can “capture incredible video without the shakes normally associated with hand-held video shot on the go, says Tiffen, if they use its new Steadicam Smoothee.

The $200 mono-frame metal camera stabilizer, developed by Steadicam, keeps an iPhone, Droid, or Flip Mino camera steady while the user captures moving video, and is “easy to use right out of the box” the company says.

It measures 8 by 14.5 by 2.5 inches.

Wearable sport cams expanded

These goggles hold an HD camera.

Liquid Image added to its Xtreme line with models that include sport cams for motorcycles, skiing, swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving.

The masks and goggles feature built-in video cameras “to capture the fun and action while on the go.” The resulting hands free POV videos “will be closer to the users’ actual view as opposed to the view captured from a POV camera mounted on the side of a helmet,” the company says.

“Integrating the camera into the sports equipment allows the user to travel with fewer items and to keep their hands free while performing sports activities. The cameras record a view similar to what is seen, allowing the user to share their experience with other people, and to enjoy their activities to a greater extent because they concentrate less on holding and operating the camera,” the company adds.

All of the cameras capture photos and video. Indicator LED lights inside the goggle or mask signals the mode to the user, along with an auditory signal. Video ranges from VGA to HD quality, with prices from $99–$350

DxOMark adds optics to camera image quality tests

DxO Labs’ new DxOMark 2010 adds “objective RAW-based lens performance measurements” to its existing database of camera sensor measurements.

All told, fifteen different scores assess the various aspects of image quality, with which to rank and compare lenses and cameras.

The free site now covers 540 cameras/lens combinations, “with dozens to follow each month,” the company says. “We found that the same lens can produce big differences in image quality performance when coupled with different camera bodies, which is why DxO Labs has taken the time and trouble to evaluate lens-camera combinations instead of testing lenses and bodies on their own.”

DxO Labs performs the measurements in its own labs, and does not rely on data from manufacturers.

DxO says its Analyzer turn-key laboratory solution for image quality evaluation “has become the reference tool for numerous leading imaging industry players, photography magazines, and websites.”

Baby monitor also snaps photos

The video monitor can also trigger a photo capture.

Lorex Technology’s wireless baby monitor camera comes with a video-enabled remote, from which parents can view their child — and even snap a photo.

Parents can also talk with the baby thorough the handheld monitor’s 2-way audio. It has a 2.4-inch LCD, and can work with four cameras “so you can monitor baby, kids, pets and home,” the company says.

Some caveats: the snapshot pictures are only QVGA resolution (320 by 240 pixels), and the system has a maximum range of just 450 feet.

“Your Photos, Happier” — Flickr expands images

Online sharing site Flickr has updated it photo display with larger views, at 640 pixels wide [up 30 percent from the previous 500] and a new light box view to spotlight photos against a dark background clear of any text or other distractions.

The site also has improved navigation controls and increased performance — up to 50 percent faster, reportedly.

Flickr says it rebuilt the film strip function “from the ground up to preview the photos surrounding the image that you’re viewing.”

The company adds that “Photos represent a lot of information about the moment of capture – what, who, when, how and where.” Among the data that will be more clearly accessible is the photographer’s identity, when and where it was taken, and with what camera. “Pictures are worth a thousand words, so we’re letting the image tell more of its story,” Flickr says.

Also, the mapping function is improved, reflecting the number of uploaded shots geotagged with data describing the location pictured.

And finally, Flickr says it is making the licenses set for each photo more visible. “Casual downloaders who might right click to ‘save’ will see your license. We’ve also placed your license info at the top of the all-sizes page. On both the photo and all-sizes page, we’ve disabled right-clicking depending on your download settings.”

YouTube shows 14.6 billion videos in May

comScore’s Video Metrix service for May 2010 reports 183 million U.S. Internet users watched nearly 34 billion online videos — up from 178 million users in April.

YouTube pulled in most of those viewers of course, and had an all-time high of 14.6 billion videos viewed, with an average of more than 100 videos per person.

The complete breakdown of who watched what and where is here.

Fotolia finds photos in AIR

Microstock marketer Fotolia launched its first Adobe AIR application to enable users to search and manage photos, vector images, and videos.

The app features one-click image buying, a drag and drop lightbox, and bulk image download from Fotolia’s collection of more than 9 million images.

In 2005, Fotolia entered the market with images for sale as low as $1. The New York City company now claims nearly 2 million members, and more than 100,000 contributing photographers.

ExpressDigital boosts photographers’ sales

ExpressDigital claims its online photography solution now results in “an empirical increase in sales volume for photographers.”

The updated PhotoReflect offers “Digital download packages” and improved simplicity for photographers “to choose exactly what they want to sell, at a cost they determine,” the company says.

The upsurge in the popularity of digital delivery of either high-, medium- or low-resolution copies of photography “tells an important tale about how people use pictures these days” the company adds.

LifePics Launches Android App, quadruples photo book orders

LifePics launched an Android app with which mobile phone users can upload photos to their online photo accounts, as well as view all photos from their online account on their phone.

The next version will allow photo print orders directly from the app, for picking up at any retail photofinisher in LifePics’ network of 10,000 stores, as well as multi-image simultaneous uploading.

LifePics adds that its “Open Photo Ecommerce Network” allows mobile and software app developers and affiliate partners to connect to its network to send users, images, and orders to LifePics retail stores.

The company also announced photo books ordered through its network in April and May 2010 increased 412 percent as compared to the same period in 2009.

“Despite a battered economy, preserving memories is still a priority in consumers’ lives, and photo books are the medium they are using, not traditional prints,” the company says. “Photo books provide a greater profit margin for our retailers.”

App searches photos via 3D “feel”

See-Fish Technology says users can “feel their way through their image collections” with the See-View 3D image browser for the iPhone — which it says provides “a spontaneous, intuitive and fun way to navigate photos.”

The company says its algorithms sort photos by color, shape and content — and once the photos are grouped by similarity, it is “easier to find what you want to see.”

Users can rotate, zoom, spin and select their photos in a three-dimensional display of their photo libraries

The company adds that its graphical user interface combined with the sheer level of math involved “makes this one of the most powerful iPhone Apps available. The algorithms and 3-Dimensional interface push the iPhone platform to its limits.”

“Photos are meant to be seen, not filed away,” See-Fish says, “and this is exactly what See-View does – makes people’s photos visible again, quickly and easily.”

iStockphoto iPhone App shares photos, tracks sales

iStockphoto says its iPhone application allows users to find the perfect file quickly and easily — and its more then 80,000 contributing artists can track their sales and view download statistics.

Customers can access and manage lightboxes of stored files from their existing iStockphoto account or create new lightboxes to save files for future viewing or purchase. The app also allows files to be e-mailed to clients and colleagues for discussion and evaluation.

“Inspiration and ideas often strike when least expected,” the company says. “This application lets us be there for our community whenever and wherever that happens.”

The iStockphoto application is available free of charge.

Started in 2000, iStockphoto is headquartered in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and is now a subsidiary of Getty Images.

8MP Droid’s dual LED

Motorola’s latest Android smartphone, the Droid X, has an 8 megapixel camera with a dual-LED flash and auto-focus.

It also captures 720p video, and has a 4.3-inch, 854 by 480 WVGA display.

It will be available later this summer from Verizon Wireless for $200 after a $100 rebate with a two-year contract.

Adobe reports record revenue

Adobe Systems reported record revenue for its second quarter.

The company says it earned $943.0 million, which it compares to $704.7 million reported for the second quarter of fiscal 2009, and $858.7 million reported in the first quarter of fiscal 2010.

This represents 34 percent year-over-year revenue growth, which Adobe says “is fueled by the explosion of digital content across all media and devices.”

The company also sites its successful launch of the Creative Suite 5 applications.

Photo displays with WiFi, Flash

A 10.1-inch backlit LED touchscreen receive photos from friends and family via e-mail.

The “Magic” photo frame has a 1024 by 576 resolution, will also play videos, and costs $200.

GiiNii is also offering an 8-inch picture frame for $90 that lacks WiFi, but does have a scroll wheel that navigates through Flash-animated menu icons. The backlit LED screen has an 800 by 600 resolution

Also, users can organize their photos on the picture frame, the Pleasanton, Calif.–company says, and create albums. “They don’t need to go to a computer” to organize photos.

FaceCake’s Frame Wizard moves still pictures

FaceCake’s Frame Wizard photo display animates pictures with blinks, smiles, or, for example, falling leaves.

It comes in 8 and 15 inch sizes, retailing for $200 and $300

A demonstration video is here.

[As the news site Technologizer notes, “this is one technology that actually creeped me out a little bit.”]

OmniVision captures quick and sensitive

OmniVision Technologies says its latest high-performance VGA sensor captures video at 60 frames per second for smoother motion video.

The OV7735 VGA sensor also has good low-light sensitivity at 3300 mV/lux-sec, and improved accuracy for motion detection applications.

The total camera solution is less than 3mm thick, and so is “ideal for portable applications” such as video cameras, portable media players, gaming devices, and webcams, the company says.

The OV7735 is sampling now and is expected to enter mass production in August 2010.

Toshiba to standardize wireless storage cards?

Saying “the need for quick and easy way to share photographs has grown,” NAND flash memory manufacturer Toshiba proposed a “Standard Promotion Forum for Memory Cards Embedding Wireless LAN.”

Working with Singapore-based Trek 2000, the proposal calls for an 8GB SDHC card with integrated 802.11b/g to transfer JPEG and RAW images.

Toshiba and Trek “invite the participation of digital camera manufacturers and other interested parties in promoting the card, and in exchanges of technical information toward establishing standard specifications and expanding the use of the card.”

We note Eye-Fi — the company which pioneered camera storage cards with built-in WiFi to upload pictures without cables — is not yet a part of this proposed partnership…

Transcend takes SDXC card to 64GB

The 64GB Class 10 SDXC storage card from Transcend Information has transfer rates up to 25 megabytes per second, for extended HD video recording.

The new SDXC standard supports capacities ranging from 32GB to 2TB; the previous SDHC supports capacities up to 32GB.

A 64GB SDXC card stores 640 minutes of 1920 by 1080 HD video, the company says.

Symbols for Speed on SD

The SD Association approved symbols for “the fastest SDXC and SDHC devices and memory cards.”

The “Ultra High Speed” symbol identifies products with bus interface speeds up to 104 Megabytes per second for greater device performance. The “UHS Speed Class” symbol identifies SD memory cards and products with a performance option allowing real-time video recording.

“The sheer variety of high-performing, feature-rich devices has dictated the need for a wide variety of SD memory card speeds and capacities to maximize device performance and meet consumer expectations,” the association says . “With more than 2.5 billion SD memory cards in the market today, the new high-speed performance capabilities will co-exist with earlier SD memory cards still used by consumers, as those cards are still interoperable with the newest host devices.”

More information is here.

Past pics predict best vacation itinerary

Analyzing geotaggs on photos reveals where to go to take pictures oneself, following the “wisdom of the crowd.”

The work of researchers at Yahoo, the system uses photos from the Flickr sharing site, reads text tags written by the shooter, as well as geolocation data. Also, timestamps show how much time was spent at each attraction, reports Technology Review,  and how long it had taken to travel between them.

A Web tool then automatically generates an itinerary to fill a specific number of days in a city in which to take photos of the most popular sites on the best schedule.

Sprint Evo 4G spotlights video conferencing

Sprint's 4G phone provides video chat.

The Evo 4G now on sale at Sprint’s online store has a 4.3-inch display and two cameras: an 8 megapixel autofocus camera that captures HD video, and a forward-facing 1.3 megapixel camera for two-way video calling.

It is preloaded with Qik Video Chat, which “allows you to experience events as they happen,” the company says, “even if you can’t be there. Attend a meeting across the country and feel like you are truly there, watch your child’s performance live on your mobile phone, or pick up a Qik Video Message from a friend who wants to share an exciting adventure. The Qik Video Chat app enables interactive, real-time sharing with almost anyone, whether the other party has Qik installed or not.”

The Android 2.1 phone is $200 with a two year contract.