I am humbled to have worked on this product with so many amazing people and delighted that our work is being recognized…
With the first LYTRO ILLUM cameras soon to be shipped to the photographers that preordered the camera, I wanted to summarize some of the media buzz of the past few months here on my blog… and it has been crazy!
The coolest exposure that the Illum received was probably Joshua Topolsky introducing the camera to Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show. Many other media outlets focused (pun intended) on the product’s extraordinary design. Engadget’s Nicole Lee writes:
And what a design it is. The Lytro Illum looks like something out of a museum or a designer piece from a Parisian fashion house. It’s a sleek and stylish thing, with a unibody magnesium chassis that’s attached to a gorgeous anodized aluminum lens barrel equipped with both zoom and focusing rings.
Also David Pierce of the Verge likes the Illum:
It’s big, with a wide round lens and a large grip, but it weighs less than 2 pounds and is perfectly comfortable in my hands. Its back face is slanted, like someone chopped off part of a larger camera to form this one.
Slashgear’s Chris Davies calls the product “a menacing stealth-black camera”, while Les Shu of Digital Trends finds that “the sleek, wedge-shaped body suggests it’s anything but traditional” and Harry McCracken of Time Magazine really understands who the Illum is designed for: “the Illum targets what the company calls ‘creative pioneers,’ which it defines as professionals and passionate amateurs who are serious about staying on the cutting edge of storytelling technology.”
As one would expect, the Illum’s angled design caught the attention of many writers. Wired’s Matt Honan explains
The angled touchscreen is designed for photography where you’re less likely to be holding a camera directly up in front of your face.
Mashable’s Pete Pachal talks about the inspiration of this aspect of the product:
The back LCD is angled downward. Lytro designed it that way because the camera doesn’t have a viewfinder. The company found that when people take photos using just an LCD screen, they tend to hold the camera below their eye level, so slanting the back came naturally. Helpfully, the display is also on an articulating arm.
Last but not least, Todd Bishop of Geekwire feels that other cameras will follow suit:
expect to see much more of this angle in all sorts of cameras in the future. The reason, of course, is that we’re increasingly holding cameras (and smartphone cameras) away from our bodies and looking at larger displays, not pressing the tiny viewfinder up to our eyes. So an upward tilt makes a ton of sense.
In the bigger scheme of the product development effort behind Lytro Illum, Artefact’s industrial design involvement was fairly brief, yet Wired’s Liz Stinson was interested in hearing about our design process and Core77’s Rain Noe spoke with Artefact’s co-founder Gavin Kelly and I about our work on the product, and I was selected to being Geekwire’s Geek of the Week, due to my role in the design process of Illum… and being that geek, I simply cannot wait to receiving my own Illum and to putting it through its paces.
[Update, August 3, 2014]
Now that Lytro Illum is shipping, some journalists had the chance to review the product in person, and the feedback regarding the product’s industrial design has been very favorable.
Writes David Pierce of The Verge:
There’s also no mistaking it for any other camera. Partly because its slanted back (designed so you can see the screen while you hold the camera at chest-level) gives the Illum a vaguely aggressive look, like it’s coming for you and your loved ones. Partly because the matte gray body with blue accents looks like it maybe fell from a spaceship or was lifted from the set of Battlestar Galactica. The Illum is big, bulky, and almost intimidating. I love the way it looks.
Wall Street Journal’s Geoffrey A. Fowler observes:
When I walked around with the Illum, the camera’s near-futuristic lines prompted bystanders to compliment it.
If you are a camera buff, the holiday season for you starts in January, when Las Vegas opens its doors for the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show, where among other things, camera manufacturers show the latest and greatest of their lineups. Simultaneously, at the concurrent PMA conference, photography experts will get together to discuss upcoming trends that will shape the industry.
One of the themes that are bound to become a hot conversation topic is the recent success of EVIL cameras (Electronic Viewfinder Interchangeable Lens) and what it means to the industry. My EVIL primer “EVIL on the Rise: The Demise of SLR Cameras?” explores the origins of these camera systems and takes a look at the opportunities EVIL offers manufacturers, professionals and prosumers.
In the report, I review the lasting advantages of Single Reflex Cameras and conclude with recommendations to manufacturers that will help them master the EVIL opportunity, and give consumers more to look forward to.
This article was first published on Artefact’s blog.
I cannot really say that my contributions to the project were major, but I played a small part in the project team that won a Special Mention at this year’s Braun Prize for Artefact’s camera design study “Meme“.
This marks the second time, that some of my work has been honored by the German company’s prestigious award.
I was speaking at PMA’s 6sight conference, where I participated in a panel on the future of digital image capture… I had a blast speaking with and listening to industry experts, learned quite a bit and also had a good time away from the conference venue… New York always makes for a great experience!
After all the dust around our Camera Futura concept seems to have settled, I took a look back at some of the hundreds of articles that were written about it. The publicity didn’t start all too well, with our little “rogue” CES video being at first considered it a hoax by some. Engadget spoke of it being “unbelievably fake” and called our initial video a “pathetic viral campaign”… we’d probably take a different route the next time around.
Still, after we posted a video vignette, describing the product’s user experience and after ReadWrite picked up on the design, the media started to focus more (pun intended) on the concept, rather than the way we first introduced it. ReadWrite’s Richard MacManus wrote the following:
As we increasingly rely on our smartphones to take photographs, wouldn’t it be great if there was a lens that could easily be added to their smart phone. That’s exactly what this camera concept aims to achieve. The Wireless Viewfinder Interchangeable Lens is an idea that would allow users to easily attach or remove a professional lens to almost any device.
My favorite article about Camera Futura was written by Wired‘s Bruce Sterling, who said:
There’s something really contemporary and even beautiful about the way this provocative “concept camera” is packaged and rolled out. First, there’s the way cameras are re-imagined “after the death of cameras” — actually, they’re imagined as if there had never been any cameras, as if cameras had always been component-based platforms and operating systems mashed-up through APIs.
And then the article itself, or the WVIL provocation, behaves as if there had never been camera companies. No economies of scale, no mass-production muscle… just an atelier shaping the tech conversation while vaguely threatening to find a production method somewhere-or-other. It’s a provocation, but it’s also a disruption. There’s something very of-the-moment about this. It’s like the camera-biz equivalent of BitCoin.
Here is what other media outlets wrote:
When can we buy one? (Please excuse the drool as I type this.)
John Pavlus, FastCo Design
Oh how I wish the 31 megapixel, full frame sensor Camera Futura camera phone were real.
This is one of the most beautiful and innovative concepts you’ll have seen in a long time, and acts upon something I’ve always wondered about—why can’t manufacturers just add cellphone guts to a camera?
Kat Hannaford, Gizmodo
Artefact has created a concept camera for the smartphone age
Jonathan Eger, Photo Weekly Online
Artefact have imagined a new camera that fits portability, flexibility and quality requirements.
Wireless LAN, Bluetooth, GPS, compasses and other receivers are a given with mobile phones – these components not only help to interconnect different devices and untether the overall use experience, they also connect users to each other through the use of social media. Users will demand for this experience to transcend beyond the realm of their mobile phones. While the traditional camera model has been simply to capture images, post-processing, sharing, and other activities will find their way into digital cameras.
The full report shows you how mobile connected services centered on photos are growing, early designs for new camera connectivity that will soon be commonplace like WiFi, GPS, and battery charging, and new device relationships allowing remote control.
Rich with examples, all Artefact Reports also include conclusions about business opportunities and exercises you can use to understand how this trend may affect your products and services.
This article was first published on Artefact’s blog.