Camera Cell Phones: Past, Present, And Future
The best camera cell phones combine the flexibility of wireless communications with the convenience of digital photography, and let their users make permanent visual records of those moments in daily life which would otherwise pass us by. And they not only preserve those moments; camera cell phones enable us to share them via the wireless networks almost as soon as they happen. Using our camera cell phones is as close as we can currently come to teleportation.
The first commercially viable camera cell phone was Sharp's J-SH04, with the CCD sensor used in many digital photography applications and a wirelessphotograph transmitting infrastructure developed by LightSurf. Similar technology made it to the US in 2002, when Sprint wireless adopted the LightSurf infrastructure for use with over a million Sanyo camera cell phones.
Camera cell phones are able to transmit photographs instantaneously along infrastructures like LightSurf which have bee embedded in a cellular carrier's network. The free their users from depending on removable media, cables, or PCs in order to store and transmit their pictures. As the camera cell phone technology has developed, the early CCD sensors have been replaced in some models by CMOS image sensors, which have much lower power consumption, conserving the camera cell phones' batteries.
The camera cell phones are designed to automatically save pictures as .jpg files for transmission, and the infrastructure automatically breaks down and reassembles them. The infrastructure is essential to the success of camera cell phones, and has worked so well that an estimated one billion camera cell phones will be manufactured in 2008. Both Bluetooth for short-range, and MMS, or Multimedia Messaging Service, for long range communicating, can transmit camera cell phone pictures.
In the seven plus years since the first commercial camera cell phone was introduced in Japan, camera cell phone technology has evolved at an astonishing rate. What began as telephones with color LCD screens and still camera capability, able to take photographs and store but not share them, are now devices like the Nokia N-95, with its five pixel embedded camera able to create and transmit DVD-caliber video clips. The quality of camera cell phone video clips became obvious in the aftermath of the London underground and bus bombings in July 2005.
With their evolution, camera cell phones have become somewhat controversial. While they are the ideal accessory for tourists who want to share their real-time travels with those back home, camera cell phones also allow people to take photographs for other purposes, not all of them honorable.
Camera cell phone users can secretly photograph others without their awareness or permission; they can be used to take pictures in museums and other environments where photographs are prohibited; and they can be used in the invasion of privacy.
But camera cell phones, with their instantaneous transmission capacity, can be very useful in reporting crimes or potentially hazardous situations to authorities and as of 2007 New York City will begin multi-year implementation of a plan which gives priority to 911 calls from callers with pictures or videos of crimes and dangerous building situations.