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Kodak exec spruiks vision for digital photography

Kodak debuts the V610 dual lens digital camera with bluetooth connectivity and demonstrates future technologies.

Coinciding with the fifth anniversary of its EasyShare system that incorporates digital cameras and docking stations, Kodak has introduced the V610 compact dual lens camera with Bluetooth connectivity and showed off what future technologies are in the works. sat down with Peter Labaziewicz, Kodak's Director of Advanced Development and Innovation, Digital Capture, Digital and Film Imaging Systems. Labaziewicz, credited with inventing Kodak's new dual lens technology, outlined what we can expect from the imaging company in the near future.

Two lenses are better than one
According to the inventor, the purpose of having a dual lens camera system is to incorporate a wide angle lens and effective optical zoom in a compact and stylish unit. When asked how he came up with the concept, he replied that after many failed attempts to fit the in-demand components into a compact body, the idea struck while on a train in the Japanese Alps. Talking to a colleague, it struck him to use two lens and two sensors to incorporate more of the elements users deemed necessary in a digital camera.

The 6-megapixel V610 is the second camera from Kodak to utilise a dual lens, the V570 being the first ever camera to use this technology. The V610 features a 10x optical zoom and is being marketed as the "world's smallest 10x optical zoom digital camera".

Its other main selling point is the incorporation of Bluetooth connectivity. Arguably the only camera currently available with this functionality, it allows users to send images directly from the camera to their computer, mobile phone or any compatible device.

Sharing here, there, everywhere
Labaziewicz told that Eastman Kodak is "making the complex simple and fun" because "if it's not simple you just don't do it" and the company aims to achieve this by providing a complete photo experience for consumers. He claims Kodak is the only company focusing on cameras, sharing and printing your pictures.

As part of this effort, Kodak is overhauling its online photo sharing tool, the "EasyShare Online Gallery" which allows members to upload and share their photo collections with family and friends. By creating a "guest list" users can send personalised invitations from their computer or mobile phone (via SMS) to anyone they'd like to see their pictures.

The EasyShare gallery allows desktop and online image sharing, and it is currently compatible with mobile phones and Sony's PSP. It will soon be making its way into lounge rooms through compatibility with the Xbox 360.

Although no time frame could be given, Labaziewicz said a High Definition media centre version was also being developed -- there is currently a Standard Definition version available in the US, which was rolled out a few weeks ago. To cater for those who may not have regular computer access, Kodak's photo-printing kiosks will soon be equipped to allow users to access the online gallery from kiosks inside stores such as Kmart where they can view and print the pictures they choose.

Recognising the future
Rather than concentrating purely on digital cameras, Kodak is "developing technology that unleashes the power of pictures". To explain what they mean by this, got a "sneak peak" into the future technologies currently in development at Kodak.

Kodak Perfect Touch -- or KPT -- is an existing technology that uses intelligent software to improve images whether the problem is red-eye, poorly exposed or backlit pictures. This can be done straight from the camera or on a computer once the software is installed. Improvements are in the works to further develop the technology to pay closer attention to individual images and their elements. "Face smoothing" will be able to "fix" flaws such as wrinkles, blotches and bad skin where necessary without affecting any areas not needing attention.

Face Recognition and Auto Album will be part of a system to easily organise and locate where pictures are stored. By "learning" the face of a photographed person, Face Recognition will produce search results that include any images they appear in in one step.

Auto Album brings old film photographs into the digital age. Consumers will be able to bring in a jumbled mess of old photographs into Kodak, and using a high-speed scanner they will be digitised and sorted by analysing things such as dye fade, whether an image is colour or black and white, or even hairstyles.

Finally, taking the online photo sharing tool further, Konga will add increased interactivity by displaying your gallery as a "conga line" that moves across the screen. Users will be able to click on individual photos to have them enlarged on the screen, add comments and even their own photos to the line.

Talking pictures
Giving your images a voice is "Kodak Photo Voice" a plug-in for the Skype application which allows you to make free phone calls using VoIP technology. This plug-in gives users the freedom to share images from their desktop or EasyShare gallery account while chatting to family and friends. The plug-in is available for free on the US EasyShare gallery site.