Camera phones


The camera phone, like many complex systems, is the result of converging and enabling technologies. There are dozens of relevant patents dating back as far as the 1960s. Compared to digital cameras of the 90s, a consumer-viable camera in a mobile phone would require far less power and a higher level of camera electronics integration to permit the miniaturization. The CMOS active pixel image sensor "camera-on-a-chip" developed by Dr. Eric Fossum and his team in the early 1990s achieved the first step of realizing the modern camera phone. While the first camera phones, as successfully marketed by J-Phone in Japan, used CCD sensors and not CMOS sensors, more than 90% of camera phones sold today use CMOS image sensor technology.

The first wireless picturephone prototype known as intellect, developed in 1993 by inventor Daniel A. Henderson[1], was received by the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in 2007[2]. This pioneering system and device was designed to receive pictures and video data sent from a message originator to a message center for transmission and display on a wireless device such as a cellular telephone. However, the integration of the cellular phone, the digital camera and a wireless internet infrastructure would take a few more years.

Over the years there have been many video phones and cameras that include communications technologies. None of them had focused on the integration with the wireless Internet which would allow instant media sharing with anyone anywhere. Such experiments include, for example, a device that was known as the Apple Videophone/PDA in 1995.[4]. There were several digital cameras with cellular phone transmission capability shown by companies such as Kodak, Olympus in the early 90s[5] There was also a digital camera with cellular phone designed by Shosaku Kawashima of Canon in Japan in May 1997.

On June 11th 1997, Philippe Kahn instantly shared the first pictures from the maternity ward where his daughter Sophie was born, with more than 2000 family, friends and associates around the world. A sharing infrastructure and an integrated cell-phone and camera combo augured the birth of instant visual communications.

In Japan, two competing projects were run by Sharp and Kyocera in 1997. Both had cell phones with integrated cameras. However, the Kyocera system was designed as a peer-to-peer video-phone as opposed to the Sharp project which was initially focused on sharing instant pictures. That was made possible when the Sharp devices was coupled to the Sha-mail infrastructure designed in collaboration with American technologist, Kahn. The Kyocera team was led by Mr. Kazumi Saburi.

The first commercial camera phone complete with infrastructure was the J-SH04, made by Sharp Corporation, had an integrated CCD sensor, with the Sha-Mail (Picture-Mail in Japanese) infrastructure developed in collaboration with Kahn's LightSurf venture, and marketed by J-Phone in Japan.

The first commercial deployment in North America of camera phones was in 2002. The Sprint wireless carriers deployed over 1 million camera phone manufactured by Sanyo and launched by the PictureMail infrastructure (Sha-Mail in English) developed and managed by LightSurf.

Like most complex technology-based systems, there are several patents and technologies relevant to aspects of the camera phone. The advent of the CMOS sensor is an enabling technology for mass production.

Camera phones share pictures instantly and automatically via a sharing infrastructure integrated with the carrier network. They do not use connecting cables or removable media to transfer pictures. Personal computer intervention is not necessary. Some camera phones use CMOS image sensors, due largely to reduced power consumption compared to CCD type cameras, which are also used. The lower power consumption prevents the camera from quickly depleting the phone's battery. Images are usually saved in the JPEG file format, and the wireless infrastructure manages the sharing. The sharing infrastructure is critical and explains the early successes of J-Phone and DoCoMo in Japan as well as Sprint and other carriers in the United States and the widespread success worldwide.

In 2006 Thuraya released the first satellite phone with an integrated camera. The Thuraya SG-2520 is manufactured by a Korean company called APSI and runs Windows CE.

Major manufacturers include Sharp, Nokia, Sanyo, Samsung, Motorola, Siemens, Sony Ericsson, and LG Electronics.. The resolution is typically in the megapixel range.

External camera


During 2003 as camera phones were gaining popularity in Europe some phones without cameras had support for MMS and external cameras that could be connected with a small cable or directly to the data port at the base of the phone. The external cameras were comparable in quality to those fitted on regular camera phones at the time, typically offering VGA resolution. Phones that supported extra cameras include the Siemens SL55 and Nokia Series 40 phones such as the Nokia 6810. Unfortunately these cameras are not compatible with more recent phones. These external cameras never proved very popular although they were stocked in various shops at the time.

Social impact

Camera phones have had a broad social impact over the past decade. In a recent radio interview, Philippe Kahn discusses the social impact of the camera phone [11].

While camera phones have been found useful by tourists and for other common civilian purposes, as they are cheap, convenient, and portable; they have also posed controversy, as they enable surreptitious photography. A user may pretend to be simply talking on the phone or browsing the internet, drawing no suspicion, and be able to photograph a person or place illegally or against that person's wishes.

As a network-connected device, megapixel camera phones are playing significant roles in crime prevention, journalism and business applications as well as individual uses. They are also prone to abuse such as voyeurism, invasion of privacy, and copyright infringement. Because they can be used to share media almost immediately, they are a potent personal content creation tool. On January 17th, 2007, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a plan to encourage people to use their camera-phones to capture crimes happening in progress or dangerous situations and send them to emergency responders. Through the program, people will be able to send their images or video directly to 911.

Enforcing bans on camera phones has proven nearly impossible. They are small and numerous and their use is easy to hide or disguise, making it hard for law enforcement and security personnel to detect or stop use.

From time to time, organizations and places have prohibited or restricted the use of camera phones and other cameras because of the privacy, security, and copyright issues they pose. Such places include the Pentagon, federal and state courts,[13] museums, theaters, and local fitness clubs. Schools have banned them over the concern that they could be used to take images of notes that can be used in order to cheat on exams[citation needed]. One country, Saudi Arabia, in April 2004, banned the sale of camera phones nationwide for a time before reallowing their sale in December 2004 (although pilgrims on the Hajj were allowed to bring in camera phones). In South Korea and Japan, all camera phones sold in the country must make a clearly audible sound whenever a picture is taken: These laws are intended to reduce the number of up-skirt photos taken.[citation needed] In Singapore, camera phones are banned at companies or facilities that have an association with national security. In Europe, some BDSM conventions and play parties ban cellphones altogether to prevent camera phone abuse.

There is the occasional anecdote of camera phones linked to industrial espionage and the activities of paparazzi, as well as some hacking into wireless operators' network.

Camera phones have also been used to discreetly take photographs in museums, performance halls, and other places where photography is prohibited. However, as sharing is automatic and instantaneous, even if the action is discovered, it is too late, as the image is already out of reach, unlike a photo taken by a digital camera that only stores images locally for later transfer.

Notable events involving camera phones

On December 30, 2006, the execution of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was filmed by a video camera phone, and made widely available on the Internet. A guard was arrested a few days later.[14]
Camera phone video and photographs taken in the immediate aftermath of the July 7th bombings were featured worldwide. CNN executive Jonathan Klein predicts camera phone footage will be increasingly used by news organizations.

Even More Laws

Camera phones have brought to light the issue of laws relating to public and private photography. While in general photography is unlikely to pose any legal dilemmas, care should be taken before photographing individuals or private property where permission has not been given.

Local, state, and national laws may exist pertaining to photographing or videotaping. Laws that are present may vary from one jurisdiction to the next, and may be stricter in some places and more lenient in others, so it is important to know the laws present in one's location. Typical laws in the United States are as follows:

Sleepy Urbanite

The train slowly sways to-and-fro down the track, making its way toward home, a bar, class, work or any other destination in the city. As the creaking wheels and rhythm of steel running against steel become intertwined with one smooth, repetitive motion, itís not hard for tired minds to wander and heavy eyelids to slowly droop for a few minutes of calm escape.

This is when the train transforms from a public place to a private sanctuary for some riders; this is also when Yvonne Doll makes her rounds through each car, photographing unknowing riders with her Motorola camera.

Yvonne Doll created, to showcase photos of the city and its sleepy commuters captured with a phone camera and enhanced with some Photoshop edits. Doll, who attended the Art Institute for painting, is a web designer, musician and artist. After riding Chicago trains for the past 15 years, she purchased a cell phone with a camera on it, started taking photos on the el, and the rest is history.


Greenhouse's 8x optical zoom kit for camera phones