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Kodak CEO Perez Outlines the Future of Consumer Imaging As He Sees It

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Las Vegas, Nevada, January 6, 2006 – From the Galileo Ballroom at the Consumer Electronics Show, Kodak CEO Antonio Perez outlined the consumer imaging world according to Kodak. Perez opened with a commitment to follow consumer voracity for ease of use, brought up industry challenges and answers as Kodak sees them, and highlighted Kodak’s hopes to create a market for consumer image storage systems through innovative software and redirecting the paradigm of the photo album. He also announced, again, the Kodak/Motorola powerhouse deal and hinted at new hardware and software in the pipeline through two promotional videos.

In a continued effort to create an image system storage market for mainstream consumers, Perez reiterated Kodak’s PR modus operandi these days of comparing storing images on a PC without an image storage organization system to a shoebox holding disorganized and unprotected loose dusty photos. Kodak has turned around their poor financial ground over the past year by going back to their roots, concentrating on the mainstream consumer camera market and creating a consumer image storage market with their EasyShare software. Perez cleverly quoted George Eastman who originally said of his first consumer Kodak camera, "You press the button, we’ll do the rest." "But in the digital space," Perez added.

Perez outlined what he sees as the challenges to the industry and Kodak’s answers to those challenges. Foremost, he would like to lead format integration among the digital still industry cameras and printers. That includes better integration of digital image software formats so that consumers are not frustrated and can share images with the same ease that text is shared now.

Perez also wants to get consumers to change the way they think of photos and their function as a memory catalyst. He believes the images should do most of the remembering for you by using meta-data attached to files to enable digital images to be self –organizing. Perez outlined Kodak’s future as the leader in consumer image storage systems by mentioning the idea for a "smart database that could detect and automatically sort by all meta-data pieces including subject, date, place, and format." He sees this being achieved through incorporating software of facial recognition, GPS tracking, calendar, and semantic understanding that learns from users how to easily manipulate collections by various relationships. Gone are the days when you have to stare at the background in an old photo and try to guess if that was your trip to the beach in Maine or Cape Cod. With a GPS stamp attached to every photo you take, captured digital images would automatically be sorted by location, even if the consumer cannot tell the database what that location is.

Perez gave the example of wanting "all the pictures of my daughter Emily at Christmas over the years." Through facial recognition software that could track an aging subject, photos of Emily would be easily found, and those of her at Christmas found by attached date information.

Perez also expressed a dissatisfaction with digital image capturing failure as an accepted norm, suggesting that the need for red-eye reduction, image stabilization, color correction and lighting correction are failures of the digital camera that should be automatically fixed and not seen as a special feature.

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Perhaps more interesting, Perez revealed, in a dazzling promo, Kodak’s current development project to incorporate the aforementioned facial recognition software that could detect age and would create albums of individuals from infancy to death.

The Kodak promotion also showed a scenario in which multiple images are automatically pieced together to form ultra panoramic landscapes that would take a Photoshop expert several hours to complete.

The show also hinted at Kodak gadgets possibly in the works, such as a digital image locket to wear around one’s neck, a digital photo wallet to store, retrieve, and show images, and a Frisbee-like picture viewer/printer. Embodying both the out-of-the-box CEO he aspires to be and the new image Kodak wants to project, Perez said, "Why does a camera have to be a rectangle? Who said you have to hold a camera?" He also continued to quote George Eastman who wanted to "make photography as convenient as the pencil." That tagline is included in the Kodak promotional commercial along with a phrase reiterating Kodak’s commitment to ease of use for the consumer: "I define digital."

Kodak’s new CEO Antonio Perez, after a rough financial year, is clearly enjoying the buzz and optimism created at CES 2006 by Kodak’s release of the first dual lens digital camera, the Kodak V570, and the announcement of a collaboration with Motorola to create a camera phone with Kodak EasyShare image quality and capabilities.

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