Otography

SUNDAY, JULY 18, 2060.

Old-Timers' Day, Yankee Stadium.

You're here with your old photoglove, getting some action shots from your seat in the upper deck without even putting down the $40 beer in your left hand. What would look to us like normal sunglasses are in fact camera-equipped goggles with a hcads-up display on the inside of the right lens.

Pointing the index finger of the photoglove, which is impregnated with tiny pyramid-shaped crystal microlenses surrounding nano-sized image sensors, you draw a frame around each bit of action so that a window appears to float in front of your goggles.

Blink: You bat your right eye to capture pictures of 86-year-old Derek Jeter throwing out the first pitch from deep center field, demonstrating his newly regenerated shoulder muscle.

Blink: A suicide squeeze.

Blink: A diving catch.

Applause is muted because the whole stadium is full of people pointing and winking at the field.

Back home, you begin to edit your

GETTING PERSONAL: Ramesh Raskar, associate professor at the MIT Media Lab and co-director of the Center for Future Storytelling, predicts that you'll be able to modify a photo's display according to your mood.

pictures using a surround-vision display. The merging of the computer and the camera has brought computational photography to fruition, so it doesn't much matter that batters were distant and sometimes had their backs to you, because, using your glove, you captured a complete

Though photos will still be composed by people with cameras, it will gradually become more accurate to say pictures were computed rather than 'taken' or 'captured.'

three-dimensional image of the players via thousands of tiny, wireless, GPS-enabled microcams that have been spread like glitter all over the field.

Choose an image from a 2D desktop display and it appears before you in 3D, lifesize, projected into an invisible fog from at least six laser projectors mounted in the walls. A joystick with a trigger and thumb buttons lets you change focal plane and depth of field, zoom in for close-ups, even alter the angle of view. Each picture is actually a few seconds of 3D video, since when you blinked the recording of that scene began five seconds before the blink and continued five seconds after. At 1,000 frames per second, each "capture" gives you the choice of separately viewing—and walking completely around—10,000 stills or replaying the action as if you were positioned on the field...

Based on current research directions, this is one possible photo future.

Where photography goes from here depends not just on what dedicated shooters want, but maybe more so on the whims of a billion app-happy cellphone junkies, each one of whom is already getting a much better camera every time they upgrade. The increasing miniaturization and simultaneous expansion of camera capabilities is now driving the outer edges of the photo frontier.

Where will it go? A number of possible tracks are discernible, but the widest vector leads toward increasing the camera's light-gathering function by several orders of magnitude.

"It's all about getting more information from the image sensor," explains Abbas El Gamal, an electrical engineering professor at Stanford University, whose research group has been developing ways to make CMOS sensors both smaller and more sensitive, capable of providing depth maps for super-3D image capture.

Though photographs in the near future will still be composed by

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