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The Origins of Camera Phones

Once an oddball novelty, camera cell phones are the latest innovation in cell phone wizardry. Newer and better features introduced everyday, such as better picture resolutions and larger memory cards, further transform the cell phone into a true multimedia device.

Camera phones have been around for almost a decade - do you remember when and who launched the first one?

The First Camera Cell Phones

The first complete camera cell phone was built by Phillipe Kahn in 1997, jerry-rigging a cell phone with a digital camera. The first cell phone picture was taken by Kahn on June 11 that year, from the maternity ward where his first child was born.

The first camera cell phone introduced commercially was the J-SH04 in Japan by J-Phone (now called SoftBank Mobile) and the Sharp Corporation in November 2000. Priced at $500 US, the J-SH04 had a 110 000 pixel resolution (0.1 megapixels), a color LCD screen, one-touch Internet access and a speaker phone.

The first cameraphones in North America were launched by Sprint in 2002 and manufactured by Sanyo. Their success was immediate, and from there spread worldwide.

Major manufacturers of camera cell phones today include Nokia, Samsung, Motorola, Sony Ericsson, and LG Mobile.

The Future of Camera Phones

Because camera cell phones are susceptible to blurry images due to unwanted hand motion or longer exposure times, a lot of the development has focused on improving the image quality.

Improvements in the image sensors will enhance the picture quality without adding more megapixels, which affects the size of the phone and requires greater memory. Image quality standardized testing and rating systems are also being developed to help consumers make better comparisons between phones.

Cell phone manufacturers have started adding video capabilities to the their phones. Greater access to high-speed networks has made transmitting moving pictures by email or over the Intenet possible.

Camera phones currently outsell digital cameras by almost 4 to 1. And by early 2009, analysts predict more than 1 billion will have been shipped worldwide. This is more than the total number of both conventional and digital cameras shipped in the entire history of photography.

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