We'll see all types of innovation coming absolutely out of the blue
But at other levels, we'll see all types of innovation coming absolutely out of the blue. It is in the nature of exponential growth to produce surprises. The steeper the innovation curve, the harder it is to predict what's coming next. As little as two years ago, 4K would have been an outside bet as a consumer phenomenon. Now it's a certainty. The only surprise with it is how quickly it's happening. To paraphrase RedShark contributor Adam Wilt: We knew that 4K would be big, but it's a surprise that it's this big, this fast.
Perhaps the best illustration of integration is the smartphone app. As we've already mentioned, Android development boards have just about everything built in. What would in times past have been an expensive development project, is now just an API call (in other words, if you wanted to know your GPS location, you've have had to design a GPS system from scratch. Now, you just say, essentially "GPS: Tell me what my position is", because it's all built in already).
Each generation of tools builds better tools for the next generation
Each generation of tools builds better tools for the next generation. That's why everything's getting better all the time. On top of that you have to add increasing connectivity, faster bandwidth, faster processing, faster and bigger memory, and, bringing it all together, software that's better able to make this most of all of this. When you look from the top to the bottom of this technology stack, you see ultra-HD cameras that can all contribute to a panoramic, stitched-together picture. At some point the whole globe will be one moving version of Google Maps. And then, Big Data will take over, drawing conclusions from the billions of inputs that it has. (If you think that's unlikely, what on earth do you think Google is doing with Google Glass?).
Quite what all this means for content production and for what people like us will do as we consume it, remains a matter for speculation. In a way, that's the whole point. As users, we just have to wait and see. But as manufacturers, we have to try to predict opportunities and take them as robustly and as quickly as we can. If we're lucky, we'll succeed in turning a whole industry on its head. If we don't get it right, we could end up with a warehouse of products that our customers were demanding yesterday, but simply don't want today.
But what does all of this mean for traditional companies with traditional skill sets? To put this another way, do companies that have been building film cameras for decades still have what it takes to build modern digital cameras?
Well, it depends on how you define a camera.