When the first camera was invented, it took over eight hours of light exposure to develop and only lasted a short while before fading away. Now, we hold up a smartphone and are able to take hundreds of images in minutes and view them instantaneously. DEON PRINSLOO, Mobile GM at LG takes us through the evolution of the camera starting with the first camera ever made – the Camera Obscura.
Picture yourself taking a selfie, holding up the camera, tapping through to the front-facing camera, trying to keep your hand steady, laughing and shaking but finally getting the shot. Now imagine you tried to do the same thing 100 years ago. It was a whole different story, involving drawn out poses and development time. It wasn’t so long ago that the digital camera completely replaced the film camera, but that doesn’t really give us a full appreciation of just how much photographic technology has changed in a few hundred years.
Of course, we don’t have many pictures lying around from way back when, but cameras themselves provide the perfect example of the way technology evolves over time.
The earliest version of what we’d loosely consider a camera existed around 1000AD, in the form of the Camera Obscura. This was the device used to take the first photograph centuries later in 1827, when Frenchman Joseph Nicephore Niepce produced the first “sun print”. Unfortunately, one successful image took eight hours of light exposure to produce, and only lasted a short while before fading away. It took over a decade for Louis Daguerre (another Frenchman) to reduce exposure time to 30 minutes, and to keep the image from vanishing.
Even with the added speed of development though, the process was still far from perfect. To take a single photograph, groups of people would huddle together and pose stiffly for what must have felt like ages. Any sudden movements could ruin an image, so although they were participating in the use of incredible new technology, it was hardly any different than the posing done by the subjects of paintings for generations before. The entire process was arduous and drawn out, a far cry from the user-friendly experience of snapping a selfie today.
Things got a little better in 1889, when George Eastman developed the first flexible roll-up film, which anyone born before the 1990s may actually remember using. It took another 50 years for Kodak to produce colour film in the late 1930s, but black and white photography still persisted through the next decade. It seemed that even when we had access to new technology, it still had to share some real estate with the ghost of the thing it would replace. The first digital camera fared similarly when it debuted in the 1980s, taking two full decades to effectively replace film cameras.
Through all these changes in technology, our reason for taking photographs has remained the same. We record images because we want to remember important moments in our lives, to revisit them and to tell stories about them. Over the years we worked to develop the camera, people found better ways to speed up each step of the process, but it was always in an effort to streamline the effort it takes to share our stories
This has never been more apparent than today, where photography has become the most powerful storytelling tool in the arsenal of every single user on the planet. Smartphones have provided users with the perfect crossroads between communication and education, existing alongside the ghosts of landline telephones, desktop computers and photographers packing pounds of DSLR gear in backpacks and hanging from every available limb. And just as older cameras have had to evolve with the times, so too have smartphone cameras, evolving from simple low-res devices to the focal point of many devices.
Including cameras in smartphone devices has actually grown users’ interest and understanding of photography as an art, and so users are looking for more from their devices. More control, versatility and higher quality images are all important to users, which is why we’ve made improving the camera a focus with each new device.
Smartphones are now equipped with cameras powerful enough to capture professional quality images. LG’s G4 even offers an 8MP front facing camera, transforming the selfie into a high quality portrait. That’s on top of the phone’s manual mode, which offers users increased control over the shots they’re taking, allowing them to toy with aperture sizes and other specs before taking a shot, and to edit their images before sharing them online.
Today we’re light years away from the eight-hour development times and long, stiff poses of the 1800s, but up until now, smartphone cameras seemed like they were at the absolute peak of what they could do. Turns out users had other plans, and even what seemed like the best thing we could do was just a stepping stone along the way through history. Now picture yourself taking a selfie a hundred years from today… what will the camera look like then?
Money talks and electronic gaming evolves
Computer gaming has evolved dramatically in the last two years, as it follows the money, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK in the second of a two-part series.
The clue that gaming has become big business in South Africa was delivered by a non-gaming brand. When Comic Con, an American popular culture convention that has become a mecca for comics enthusiasts, was hosted in South Arica for the first time last month, it used gaming as the major drawcard. More than 45 000 people attended.
The event and its attendance was expected to be a major dampener for the annual rAge gaming expo, which took place just weeks later. Instead, rAge saw only a marginal fall in visitor numbers. No less than 34 000 people descended on the Ticketpro Dome for the chaos of cosplay, LAN gaming, virtual reality, board gaming and new video games.
It proved not only that there was room for more than one major gaming event, but also that a massive market exists for the sector in South Africa. And with a large market, one also found numerous gaming niches that either emerged afresh or will keep going over the years. One of these, LAN (for Local Area Network) gaming, which sees hordes of players camping out at the venue for three days to play each other on elaborate computer rigs, was back as strong as ever at rAge.
MWeb provided an 8Gbps line to the expo, to connect all these gamers, and recorded 120TB in downloads and 15Tb in uploads – a total that would have used up the entire country’s bandwidth a few years ago.
“LANs are supposed to be a thing of the past, yet we buck the trend each year,” says Michael James, senior project manager and owner of rAge. “It is more of a spectacle than a simple LAN, so I can understand.”
New phenomena, often associated with the flavour of the moment, also emerge every year.
“Fortnite is a good example this year of how we evolve,” says James. “It’s a crazy huge phenomenon and nobody was servicing the demand from a tournament point of view. So rAge and Xbox created a casual LAN tournament that anyone could enter and win a prize. I think the top 10 people got something each round.”
Read on to see how esports is starting to make an impact in gaming.
Blockchain is generally associated with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, but these are just the tip of the iceberg, says ESET Southern Africa.
This technology was originally conceived in 1991, when Stuart Haber and W. Scott Stornetta described their first work on a chain of cryptographically secured blocks, but only gained notoriety in 2008, when it became popular with the arrival of Bitcoin. It is currently gaining demand in other commercial applications and its annual growth is expected to reach 51% by 2022 in numerous markets, such as those of financial institutions and the Internet of Things (IoT), according to MarketWatch.
What is blockchain?
A blockchain is a unique, consensual record that is distributed over multiple network nodes. In the case of cryptocurrencies, think of it as the accounting ledger where each transaction is recorded.
A blockchain transaction is complex and can be difficult to understand if you delve into the inner details of how it works, but the basic idea is simple to follow.
Each block stores:
– A number of valid records or transactions.
– Information referring to that block.
– A link to the previous block and next block through the hash of each block—a unique code that can be thought of as the block’s fingerprint.
Accordingly, each block has a specific and immovable place within the chain, since each block contains information from the hash of the previous block. The entire chain is stored in each network node that makes up the blockchain, so an exact copy of the chain is stored in all network participants.
As new records are created, they are first verified and validated by the network nodes and then added to a new block that is linked to the chain.
How is blockchain so secure?
Being a distributed technology in which each network node stores an exact copy of the chain, the availability of the information is guaranteed at all times. So if an attacker wanted to cause a denial-of-service attack, they would have to annul all network nodes since it only takes one node to be operative for the information to be available.
Besides that, since each record is consensual, and all nodes contain the same information, it is almost impossible to alter it, ensuring its integrity. If an attacker wanted to modify the information in a blockchain, they would have to modify the entire chain in at least 51% of the nodes.
In blockchain, data is distributed across all network nodes. With no central node, all participate equally, storing, and validating all information. It is a very powerful tool for transmitting and storing information in a reliable way; a decentralised model in which the information belongs to us, since we do not need a company to provide the service.
What else can blockchain be used for?
Essentially, blockchain can be used to store any type of information that must be kept intact and remain available in a secure, decentralised and cheaper way than through intermediaries. Moreover, since the information stored is encrypted, its confidentiality can be guaranteed, as only those who have the encryption key can access it.
Use of blockchain in healthcare
Health records could be consolidated and stored in blockchain, for instance. This would mean that the medical history of each patient would be safe and, at the same time, available to each doctor authorised, regardless of the health centre where the patient was treated. Even the pharmaceutical industry could use this technology to verify medicines and prevent counterfeiting.
Use of blockchain for documents
Blockchain would also be very useful for managing digital assets and documentation. Up to now, the problem with digital is that everything is easy to copy, but Blockchain allows you to record purchases, deeds, documents, or any other type of online asset without them being falsified.
Other blockchain uses
This technology could also revolutionise the Internet of Things (IoT) market where the challenge lies in the millions of devices connected to the internet that must be managed by the supplier companies. In a few years’ time, the centralised model won’t be able to support so many devices, not to mention the fact that many of these are not secure enough. With blockchain, devices can communicate through the network directly, safely, and reliably with no need for intermediaries.
Blockchain allows you to verify, validate, track, and store all types of information, from digital certificates, democratic voting systems, logistics and messaging services, to intelligent contracts and, of course, money and financial transactions.
Without doubt, blockchain has turned the immutable and decentralized layer the internet has always dreamed about into a reality. This technology takes reliance out of the equation and replaces it with mathematical fact.