Innovation Sighting – The Next Wave in Digital Photography

Innovation Sighting - The Next Wave in Digital PhotographyIt might surprise you that a single innovation pattern, Multiplication, formed the premise of all photography. The cameras you use today evolved from Multiplication.  The entire photography industry continues to benefit thanks to this powerful pattern.

Multiplication is one of five simple patterns innovators have used for thousands of years.  These patterns are the basis of Systematic Inventive Thinking, a method that channels your thinking and regulates the ideation process.  The method works by taking a product, service, or process and applying a pattern to it.  This changes the starting point.  It morphs the product into something weird, perhaps unrecognizable.  With this altered configuration (we call the Virtual Product), you work backwards to link it to a problem that it addresses or new benefit it delivers.  The process is called Function Follows Form.

The photography industry continues to evolve thanks to more of the SIT patterns.  At this years Photokina show in Cologne, Germany, camera makers unveiled their latest and greatest inventions.  Here is an example of the Subtraction pattern in the new wave of digital photography (as reported by CNET):

“The mirrorless cameras leave out the reflex mirror of SLRs, which use it to bounce light into the viewfinder so a photographer can see through the camera’s lens. When it’s time to take a photo, the SLR mirror flips up out of the way, the shutter opens, the light hits the image sensor, then the mirror flips back down.With mirrorless cameras, the light just goes straight to the image sensor all the time. If there’s a viewfinder at all, it’s an electronic display, often an optional accessory. The design is simpler, smaller, and all the rage in the industry.”

As camera-enabled smartphones have grown in popularity, consumers have learned to love the ability to photograph and then immediately share their photo over the Internet.  Now, traditional camera makers are responding to the threat in an interesting way.  Rather than compete head-to-head with smartphones, they are using the Task Unification pattern instead.  Task Unification works by “assigning an additional job to an existing resource within the Closed World (where the product or service is being consumed).  See if you can spot the Task Unification in this new crop of cameras:

“Wireless networking in the camera industry in general has been conspicuous by its absence, isolating cameras from people’s in-the-moment sharing activities.  Curiously, though, the very smartphones that have put the camera industry so much on the defensive are proving to be its savior, too. Cameras now can connect directly to those smartphones, letting the two cooperate rather than compete. Canon’s new SLR, the EOS 6D announced at Photokina, has Wi-Fi built in; with the Canon EOS Remote app for iOS and Android, people can remotely operate the camera, review photos even while the camera is stashed away in luggage, and most importantly, transfer photos to a smartphone for quick sharing.  Another new Wi-Fi-enabled Canon camera is the PowerShot S110. For this model — and doubtless others to come — smartphone users can connect over Wi-Fi with the CameraWindow app for iOS or for Android. That lets people share their photos immediately using a phone.”

image credit: canon

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Drew BoydDrew Boyd is Assistant Professor of Marketing and Innovation at the University of Cincinnati and Executive Director of the MS-Marketing program. Follow him at and at

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