Paris: Yesterday saw the opening of the Canon Expo 2015 in Paris. The event, which takes place every five years, has been put together at considerable cost and effort to show the world that a company best known for professional-standard DSLR cameras and office printers is capable of so much more.
“Canon is now the largest printing and network surveillance system company in the world,” says Fujio Mitarai, Chairman and CEO of Canon, in his keynote delivered before a 1,599-strong crowd – and #GNTECH – at the expo. It’s a statement that sounds impressive and ominous in almost equal measure, if only in Orwellian terms.
At the expo, the Japanese multinational is aiming to draw a parallel between growth in the world of imaging and the internet of things (IoT), while redefining its own place in a new world order. Nearly everything will soon be connected through smart devices. “These rely on built-in cameras or sensors and the data they generate,” adds Mitarai. “The IoT will largely depend on the imaging of things.”
Technology highlights at Canon EXPO Paris 2015
One of the coolest things on show at the expo has to be Mixed Reality, a development project that combines the best of both VR and augmented reality. Picture the skeleton of a car, with seats and a wire frame. You sit in the driver’s seat and there isn’t much to do. That is, until you put on a headset. Suddenly, you’re looking down at brake and accelerator pedals at your feet, both of which you can press.
There’s also a gear stick, which #GNTECH leaves alone because it never learnt manual.
This is how companies might test products in the future. Other applications include education and training – what better way to test an engineer than have them repair a burst pipe with their hands (and a headset)? Home-building is an area that fascinates Jaap van t’ Ooster, European PPG Director at Canon EMEA.
Giving us the example of someone interested in building a house, he says, “Imagine being able to put on a pair of glasses and seeing the structure set against a real sky and trees in its actual setting. You can walk inside and see the kitchen interior.”
Another wicked piece of tech is a 250MP CMOS sensor, the world’s highest pixel count for its size. When installed in a camera, the new sensor is capable of capturing lettering on the side of an aircraft 18 kilometres away. Best they don’t point it at our face then…
There’s also a network camera with a new ultra-telephoto lens that achieves eight times the brightness of conventional lenses, making night filming possible for the first time without need of infrared lighting. #GNTECH wandered into a room where we couldn’t see much, until looking into the camera to discover a city built of Lego.
There’s also Intelligent Imaging for Life. This is a smart home application that allows people to use their living room table as an interactive virtual canvas for viewing, sharing and printing their photos. Place your son’s Hotwheels on the surface and an album and videos come up on screen from his fifth birthday when someone gave him that toy. This can be equal fun for adults too; drop a permanently stained coaster on the table to bring back some messy memories.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Canon event without insanely powerful imaging gear. There’s an 8K camera for that.
Canon: Working together (independently)
Mitarai’s vision for a future Canon sees both regional independence and international collaboration put into practice.
In the new network of companies, each regional headquarters will manage local R&D and manufacturing, as well as service and support customised to its market. Europe will focus on printing and network video surveillance (NVS) and Canon has already brought on board strong leaders in these business areas such as Océ, Axis and Milestone Systems.
“We are excited about the huge opportunities the shifting landscape presents and believe that in the future every image should have a connection with Canon,” says Rokus van Iperen, President and CEO, Canon Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA). “Whether it is taking the image, recording, storing, editing or printing it we want to play a part and are building businesses to do this.”
One example of how Canon is capitalising on strong positions in its core markets to drive future business growth in EMEA is in NVS. The company, alongside Axis and Milestone, brings together complementary technologies and solutions to respond to society’s ever-expanding monitoring needs. “Ground-breaking new solutions, such as the concept high-sensitivity network camera with ultra-telephoto lens on show at the expo, demonstrate what’s possible for the security market and beyond,” reads the company line.
The company is also looking to compliment its robust position in the 2D printing space by entering the third dimension. As a first step in a young but promising market, Canon is partnering with 3D Systems in Europe to provide companies in manufacturing, architecture, education and engineering sectors solutions that provide smart alignment between data, imaging capture and output.
There’s also the graphic arts segment, where Canon is investing in digital print technologies to be able to cost-effectively print ever-more complex applications on demand. The company’s Océ Colorwave 910 is claimed to be the fastest digital wide format colour printer on the market. Its abilities are being showcased at a high-speed colour poster printing demonstration at the event.
While its last expo in 2010 was built around cameras and hardware, this time around Canon is explaining its plans to build an ecosystem of products and services for every part of the imaging journey. Key apps include a cloud photo service, irista, a family-focused application, Lifecake, which lets you share a more emotive story of your child’s early life, and hdbook EZ, which intelligently selects the best images from picture and movie libraries and automatically creates a personalised photobook.