New Technology We’re Actually Excited About for 2018

Computational photography

When I say computational photography, I’m using it to refer to the broad range of ways that engineers are working with software to improve digital cameras. Big high-end sensors and fine glass lenses aren’t in any danger of being replaced when it comes to getting the best shot possible, but software solutions are making new techniques possible, and constantly improving small affordable cameras.

Smartphones are getting thinner, but the images they can capture only get better. Software is one of the biggest reasons for that. Apple and Samsung are using software (and dual lenses) to create excellent depth of field effects on their phones, and even big deal directors like Steven Soderbergh and Michel Gondry decided to start shooting with the iPhone this year. Meanwhile, Google’s Pixel 2 camera got our recommendation for its superior HDR processing, and it also is integrating a ton of AI features into its camera software that will only get more useful. And Andy Rubin’s Essential Phonetook a lot of heat for its lackluster camera, but software updates have helped it improve over the past few months.

Newcomer Rylo took a shot at GoPro with its first device that combines an action cam and a 360 camera into a pocket-sized gadget with some serious software at an affordable price. It has some of the best image stabilization I’ve seen. And its intuitive editing software allows you to just shoot everything around you to make shot choices and choreograph smooth camera movements later.

Don’t get too excited: Software still has a long way to go before it can approximate the look of the highest-end cameras, and it might be a bit unfortunate to see professionals settling for something that’s just good enough.

Self-driving cars

Talk about self-driving cars has been around so long that it’s almost mundane. No one seemed to care that Waymo officially abandoned test drivers behind the wheels of its self-driving cars in Arizona back in November. That’s a huge deal. Waymo is launching a self-driving taxi service in the suburbs of Phoenix. For real!

The promise of self-driving cars means more efficient commutes, more free time, fewer traffic accidents, big leaps in AI, and all sorts of other game-changing advancements.

As far as getting these things out to the public goes, Tesla insists that its auto-pilot feature that offers limited self-driving capabilities will be ready to drive itself from California to New York very soon. That means Tesla owners would already have a self-driving car because the company just to push out a software update.

Don’t get too excited: This is a scary economic shift. A lot of people are going to lose their jobs. That’s a big factor in the dampened excitement. Also, with all that extra free time in the commute, demanding bosses are just going to expect more productivity.

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