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Whither Pixel?

April 19, 2021

PaintedBuntingMy current phone is a Pixel 4 XL, purposely chosen over the newer 5G Pixels because it features a 2x zoom lens. If someone today interested in a phone with top camera capabilities were to glance at the ratings at DXOmark, they would find that none of the models on their current leaderboard (second photo) are sold in the US! DXOmark has added a convenient toggle switch, so that Americans can filter out what is available in Asia, and see only the lesser tech that makes it to our shores. That should cause Americans to scratch their heads that we have become a technology backwater, and shame Apple and Google, were corporations capable of shame, both of which rightly earn high marks for their camera software, both of which are falling behind in the total camera package.

DXOmark_topphones_2021_04_07The news is now out that Google will feature some proprietary, custom silicon in its next Pixels, with considerable speculation about how that will be used. My first wish is that enables them to make a leap in photo capabilities, at least in one model. It might do that in a variety of ways. Even something as simple as reduced footprint or  lessening the power requirements for more routine tasks can play a large role, by allowing more space for lenses. Space and power are key constraints in most every element of smartphone design. 

My second wish is for a security module that embeds a private key unique to each phone and resistant to exposure, even by destructive means, that is used to sign every photo and video and audio capture. Ideally, the signature embeds time and place as well as proving authenticity. Deep fakes are here. The world needs a way of knowing what recordings are authentic. Cellphones are the ideal place to begin. That also has a variety of uses for personal security. Specialized silicon could help with that. Normal marketing processes might provide my first wish. This second, alas, requires some forward-looking visionary in Google to push such a thing.

The painted buntings that pass through in the spring forage in our back yard of frog fruit and winecups. The one shown in the first photo visited last evening. A cellphone taking a quick photo at dusk through a backdoor might never do justice to their plumage. Still, I quickly will sneak such photo, when the bird poses. 

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