To glimpse the cars of the future, you go to the annual North American International Auto Show in Detroit. But where do you go to look at the cameras of the future? The International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Vegas. For 40 years, this is where innovators from around the globe have shown off breakthrough technologies—including concept cameras. The show takes place next week, January 7-10. To mark the occasion, I wanted to revisit one of the more inspirational concept cameras from the show’s recent past.
The WVIL. Short for Wireless Viewfinder Interchangeable Lens, the WVIL, was introduced as a concept camera at the 2011 CES. It looked like a DSLR lens stuck to the front of a smart phone. And indeed, the idea was that you could detach your chosen lens from the viewfinder and still operate it from afar using wireless technology. Each lens would have an imaging sensor, battery, and storage built into it and would be controllable from a touch-screen viewfinder. And, of course, the whole thing would have Internet connectivity so images could be readily shared online.
The Klipp. After he saw the WVIL design at the 2011 CES show in Vegas, a designer named Mac Funamizu was inspired to create a similar set-up. His would be smaller, thinner, and frankly, more attractive. It looked remarkably different from any other camera I’ve ever laid eyes on, truly futuristic. He called it the Klipp, referring to a clip on the lens that made it possible to attach the lens to a variety of things. As with the WVIL, the lens would have everything needed to take high-quality SLR photos. And it would wirelessly send images to something that looked a bit like a handheld window. Oh, that window! I love the window, which is actually a transparent display.
The QX Series. While the WVIL might have seemed a distant dream when it was introduced at the 2011 CES, those in the tech biz considered very much doable at the time. All the necessary technology existed and just needed to be melded together. As if to prove that, Sony unveiled its QX Series “Lens Style Cameras” this past fall. Voila! Concept come to life, generally speaking. Though the QX cameras look like mere lenses, they contain everything you need to take a photograph—except the viewfinder. The viewfinder is your smart phone. As was the vision with the WVIL concept camera, you can separate the lens from the viewfinder and make them work together wirelessly.
I have to admit, I’m still hoping to see that Klipp concept come to life. In the meantime, I wonder what game-changing concept cameras are in store for us at this year’s show. Anyone going? Let us know what gadgetry makes your jaw drop or your heart pitter-pat while you’re there!