The NEXT BIG THING in digital cameras

Looking at the digital camera market, you'd wonder where the exciting new developments are going to emerge. Up until a few years ago the pace of change was enormous as digital cameras took the lead and sorted out their resolution/storage/cost issues. Since then, all these things have continued to improve (at a slower rate) and there have been odd enhancements such as smile detection.

So, what's the next big thing?

This is my idea: non-physical optical zoom. True optical zoom is limited by the physical depth available in the device, so that the lenses can be moved closer or further apart. Devices like iPads and smartphones have virtually no thickness to them - just a handful of millimetres - so they will be given 'real' optical zooming rather than the poor man's digital zoom that they currently have. The amount of zoom available will also go up enormously, surpassing even that of current camcorders. I would expect that this will come from developments in polymers that will be able to 'stretch' their focal length by electrical stimulus - but I really don't know. This will solve the core weakness of current pocket-sized and super-thin devices.

Is this sort of thing possible? Maybe not at the moment, but I'd give it five or ten years and this technology will be the way to do focus and zooming.


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