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The Business Page

Welcome to the business page, a blog where I'll take you behind the scenes of greater Rochester's fast-changing economy. My name is Ben Rand, and I intend to introduce you to some of the personalities, concepts and events that make news in business here. I've been a business reporter for eight years in Rochester and a journalist for 18, working in four states. I grew up in Pittsford, but moved away after college for about a decade. My wife and I live in Irondequoit with our two children.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Cool Kodak Technology

I am just back from New York, where Kodak had a little gathering of reporters and analysts to talk about some futuristic technology straight out of movies such as "Minority Report."

Kodak, for instance, is playing around with software that will recognize faces. The application would be able, theoretically, to search all the pictures on your hard drive and pull out every image of you son or daughter, aunt or uncle, mom or dad.

That's all well and good, but what then? Kodak's got software that will automatically organize those images into albums. So, for instance, you could end up this process with an album that tells the story of your family's year in pictures. Or more.

In the future there may be the capacity to analyze the pictures for certain scenes -- grouping indoor and outdoor shots together, for example, or even spotting Christmas tree shots.

This is more than vaporware. Kodak's now marketing an industrial scanner that will allow you to bring your shoeboxes of images into a local retailer -- it's being tested at Wegmans right now -- and walk out with a Picture CD.

But not any old CD. The software is able to look for clues in the images and group them by decade, based on the type of photo technology that was prevalent in that time frame. For instance, there was a brief period when the photo industry liked to print pictures with rounded corners. With all that information in hand, it becomes relatively easy to direct the software to route the images to the 1970s file.

Mitch Goldstone, undoubtedly the nation's most outspoken photo retailer, has had this scanning service in place for about a year. Though he's in California, he's willing to scan images long distance (if you're confident sending them!) Go to this site for more details.

Here's a story in Wired Magazine, the domain of tech geeks, about the event.

What I think is interesting about the theme of Tuesday's event is Kodak's analogy to digital music. Just like the Apple iPod and other MP3 devices unleashed music from their CD prisons, so, too, is photography on the cusp of a liberating revolution, where pictures would be more than stray bits and bytes on a hard drive. They'd be freed to be turned into lasting memories -- albums, online slide shows, picture instant messages and more.

The open question is whether Kodak can make money from the new technologies. The reality is, no one knows for sure until the technologies get into the marketplace. We shall see.

5 Comments:

Blogger guillermo said...

More hype from an imploding dinosaur. The last major successful product invented by Kodak was silver halide film; about 120 years ago. Most all else has been acquired.

This PR announcement is to deflect upcoming financial performance which continues to indicate the eventual sell off of most of the company.

9:24 AM, April 29, 2006  
Blogger Behind The Business Page said...

Methinks you are being a tad on the harsh side. At the risk of seeming an apologist -- just give you one example -- Kodak technology is part of the Chandra space telescope, which is currently amazing scientists. Check it out at: http://chandra.harvard.edu/

Kodak may ultimately prove financially unsuccessful in its transition to digital, but it won't be for a lack of technology.

10:51 AM, May 01, 2006  
Blogger guillermo said...

Technology is one thing....profitable technology is another. How much money is being made by Kodak on the Chandra project? Same old story I'm afraid. Technology is only as good as the continuing income stream it produces.

11:26 AM, May 01, 2006  
Blogger Behind The Business Page said...

I fully agree. I was responding to the "last major successful product ... 120 years ago." Finding technologies that earn money for the company and its shareholders is far and away the biggest challenge.

11:41 AM, May 01, 2006  
Blogger guillermo said...

Looks like the technology faucet just ran dry for the Health Group.
Can't make money selling someone else's technology and putting your name on it.
One leg of the three legged stool gone.

4:39 PM, May 04, 2006  

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