Twenty years ago on June 11th 1997, I shared instantly the first camera-phone photo of the birth of my daughter Sophie. Today she is a university student and over 2 trillion photos will be instantly shared this year alone. Every smartphone is a camera-phone. Here is how it all happened in 1997, when the web was only 4 years old and cellular phones were analog with ultra limited wireless bandwidth.
First step 1996/1997: Building the server service infrastructure: For a whole year before June 1997 I had been working on a web/notification system that was capable of uploading a picture and text annotations securely and reliably and sending link-backs through email notifications to a stored list on a server and allowing list members to comment. Remember it was 1996/97, the web was very young and nothing like this existed. The server architecture that I had designed and deployed is in general the blueprint for all social media today: Store once, broadcast notifications and let people link back on demand and comment. That’s how Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and many others are function. In 1997 this architecture was key to scalability because bandwidth was limited and it was prohibitive, for example, to send the same picture to 500 friends. Today the same architecture is essential because while there is bandwidth, we are working with millions of views and potential viral phenomena. Therefore the same smart “frugal architecture” makes sense. I called this “Instant-Picture-Mail” at the time.
Digital cameras and cell phones in 1997: For the first time in 1997 there was a successful and broadly available digital camera at a reasonable price – the Casio QV. It was 1/4 VGA and made pixelated but nice 320 by 240 pictures. Also, there was a very successful StarTAC Motorola flip phone in the U.S. It was so successful that it had a car speaker kit with a modular plug that allowed for hands-free use of the phone in the car. (That becomes important as part of this invention)
Before June 11th 1997: I had the server-service infrastructure functional as I mentioned. Today we’d call this the “cloud infrastructure”. I also had a Casio digital camera, a Motorola flip phone and a laptop. The camera was designed to upload pictures to the laptop with a special cable. However, there was no practical way to connect the laptop to the StartTac and control batched jobs of for example, uploading a series of pictures to a cloud based system. The laptop didn’t talk to the phone. Yet the phone could send data at 1200 baud over U.S. wireless analog networks. The combination of the Casio Camera, the Toshiba laptop, and the Motorola StartTac were the prototype of a camera-phone that I rapidly integrated on a breadboard thereafter: The Casio Camera because a miniature CMOS imaging sensor, the Toshiba Laptop a small embedded MCU all integrated with cell phone module, both analog for the US and Digital for Japan for example.
The first “Instant-Picture-Mail” picture shared with 2000 friends and family across the globe: June 11th 1997, Sophie’s birth picture
On June 11, 1997: When we arrived at the Sutter maternity center we had a nice, large private room, with a big desk. We were told that we came “early,” and that we could either go home or stay. We stayed and settled in. I had the camera, the phone, the laptop and the service-server-system was running at home and functional. It was clear there was a hardware challenge in interfacing the phone to the laptop. I had written a control program on the laptop that uploaded pictures from the camera, used a modem and could upload them to the Service-Server-System with a tag as to which list of friends and family to notify. Then I remembered that I had a StarTAC speakerphone kit in my car. I literally ran down to my car, took out the whole speaker phone kit and started working frantically at creating a software/firmware/hardware interface using the “butt plug” of the Car-Kit to interface the laptop modem to the StartTac 1200 baud modem. My wife Sonia gave me some time because we were 18 hours early. When Sophie took her first breath, all was working and tested. About 2,000 friends and family received the picture around the world. I called it “Instant-Picture-Mail”. We immediately started getting emails and annotations back asking “How did you do this?” and “Can I have one of those?”. That’s when we realized we had something and what we needed now was to integrate the hardware in one elegant component.
Integrating: Immediately it became clear that we needed a CMOS sensor and an MCU integrated into phones. We built these prototypes that were interfaced with the exact software/server/service-infrastructure “Instant-Picture-Mail”.
Integrating, CMOS Imaging Sensor, MCU and Cellular phone modules, late 1997
Paradigm shift and Instant-Picture-Mail success: It was clear to me that this was all a game changer and that this was the future of two of America’s most successful companies, Kodak and Polaroid, so I met with their CEOs and core teams. They all had wireless projects, and all could transmit pictures wirelessly and could not envision “Point shoot and share instantly”. No printing, no film, no paper, and no silver halide film. They all had billions of dollars in business, comfortable suites, armies of management consultants, tech consultants and pundits that just didn’t get it. Yes, I was trying to convince them that the future was digital photography “inside the phone” with the Instant-Picture-Mail software/server/service-infrastructure. They hired consultants, market pundits and they all collectively came to the conclusion that phones would be focused on voice (this is before texting) and that cameras would become wireless. Both Kodak and Polaroid went bankrupt and so did Motorola. Nothing could stop this paradigm shift. I couldn’t find anyone in the U.S. with the vision to launch “Instant-Picture-Mail”. I also had no success with my good contacts at big players in Japan, such as NTT Docomo. However, a small Japanese carrier – J-Phone – was enthusiastic and brought in Sharp to design a “Instant-Picture-Mail phone”. In Japanese Sha-Mail means Picture-Mail. It was a great success and it really put J-phone on the map. J-phone is now owned by Softbank. We launched the Camera-Phone with Instant-Picture-Mail in Japan in late 1999.
Return to the U.S. with success: Wired Magazine noticed our success with “Instant-Picture-Mail” in Japan, and in its “Death of Napster Issue” (the one with the funeral black cover), writer Bob Parks wrote “The Big Picture,” cover story which described my creation and some of my IP. The management team at Sprint and in particular two visionary executives: Pierre Barbeau and Danny Bowman, read wired and called me up: “We want to be the first with “Instant-Picture-Mail” in the U.S.” Sprint, Casio and my company LightSurf worked together to launch the first camera-phone in the U.S. in 2002 with the Instant-Picture-Mail software/server/service-infrastructure. This differentiated Sprint, and our partner became the fastest growing carrier for several years. It took two years for ATT and Verizon to launch in the U.S.
What about other claims of inventions: Many companies put photo-sensors in phones or wireless modules in cameras, including Kodak, Polaroid, Motorola. None of them understood that the success of the camera-phone is all about instantly sharing pictures with the cloud-based Instant-Picture-Mail software/server/service-infrastructure. In fact, it’s even amusing to think that none of these projects was interesting enough that anyone has kept shared pictures. You’d think that if you’d created something new and exciting like the camera-phone you’d share a picture or two or at least keep some!
It’s great to reflect 20 years later how the camera-phone is a game-changer for society in so many ways. In the last decade I have assembled the best team of scientists, mathematicians, engineers at Fullpower we are now looking forward to the next paradigm shift. We believe that Sleep will become Digital Sleep focused on measurable, quantified sleep efficiency and performance. We’re pioneering artificial intelligence, machine learning and data science with our Sleeptracker technology to bring a long term roadmap to digital sleep. That’s a game changer for an industry that has been focused on foam and coils for the last 200 years. Just like Kodak and Polaroid were focused on their large profitable brick-and-mortar silver halide empires before they fell into oblivion. Paradigm shifts are both a great opportunity for newcomers and a challenge for incumbents.
Philippe Kahn, a French entrepreneur, was waiting for his baby daughter to be born when he hit upon the inspiration for the world’s first camera-photo.
It was a summer evening in 1997, and Philippe Kahn was anxiously waiting for his daughter Sophie to be born. Desiring to share her birth instantly with family and friends, he conceived what would become the world’s first camera phone. The Internet was only four years old and only good for simple email with limited wireless connection. So he bought a Casio QV-10 digital camera and inserted it into a Motorola Startac phone. When Sophie was born, her photo became the first ever camera-phone image, something that, 20 years on, we take for granted.
Newborn Sophie Kahn — the person who inspired the first camera phone.
Now Kahn runs several companies, including Fullpower, founded in 2003, which provides a patented ecosystem for wearables and Internet of Things products. The inspiration for his main product, the Sleeptracker Monitor, stems from Kahn’s passion for sailing — he owns a team called Pegasus Racing. During a demanding race that means sailors have less than an hour’s sleep in a 24-hour period, Kahn began experimenting with biosensors and three-axis linear accelerometers that could detect micro-movements. Kahn created prototype sleep trackers using biosensors that optimised 26-minute power naps to maximise sleep benefits and sail time.
Bedding Industry’s First Stand-Alone Sleep Monitoring Device Empowers Individuals to Optimize Daily Performance
(ATLANTA, Ga. – March 21, 2017) – The Beautyrest Brand is proud to introduce the Beautyrest Sleeptracker monitor – a patented sleep monitoring system that pairs with any mattress or foundation, allowing individuals to make their bed a smart bed. This non-invasive breakthrough device is the bedding industry’s first stand-alone solution to monitor a broad range of factors affecting high-quality sleep for two individuals simultaneously. Offering an unprecedented level of accuracy, the monitor is 90 percent accurate when measuring heart rate and breathing rate for the vast majority of the population, 90 percent of the time.
“As one of the most trusted and recognizable bedding brands nationwide, we are proud to embrace the smart home movement with technology that provides a deeper understanding of how we sleep,” said Jim Gallman, Executive Vice President, Beautyrest Marketing. “The Beautyrest Sleeptracker monitor allows consumers to optimize their sleep habits and make improvements that can have dramatic implications for their overall quality of life.”
The monitor provides consumers with an in-depth analysis of each user’s sleep ecosystem – including current behaviors, comparisons to biometrical similar users and personalized tips to help them perform better every day. By analyzing a variety of sleep variables, it also provides personalized recommendations and expert insights designed to improve daily performance. While everyone has an individual definition of what performance means, the Beautyrest Sleeptracker monitor enables users to get the optimal sleep necessary to accomplish whatever may come in the day ahead – whether that is a full day at the office, managing a complex family schedule or even running a marathon.
“The Sleeptracker artificial intelligence (AI) engine represents a dramatic improvement over other sleep monitoring devices, and is the result of significant resources invested in research and development,” said Arthur Kinsolving, Chief Technology Officer of Fullpower Technologies, Inc., the technology partner of the Beautyrest Brand. “With the power of AI and machine learning, the Beautyrest Sleeptracker monitor will continue to stretch its lead and deliver unprecedented deep insights into consumers’ sleep patterns.”
According to the Better Sleep Council, “a good night’s sleep sets the optimal stage for, not only physical, but also mental performance. If you are well rested, you will approach social, professional, and physical challenges in the most advantageous state of mind and body.” The Beautyrest Sleeptracker monitor will provide individuals with a new understanding of what is keeping them up at night while also offering easy-to-implement solutions that recognize long-term trends and become more personalized over time.
The Beautyrest Sleeptracker® Monitor Benefits and Features:
- The only device in its class that can monitor sleep patterns of two individual sleepers simultaneously due to an advanced AI engine
- While wearables must be worn on the body and charged regularly, the Beautyrest Sleeptracker monitor plugs directly into a wall outlet, is completely non-invasive and requires no changes to day-to-day bedding
- Patented system that accurately measures both respiration and heart rate for deeper sleep analysis (wrist-worn wearables can’t monitor the essential respiration vital sign and are notoriously inaccurate for continuous heart rate monitoring)
- Can be set to automatically monitor sleep data when users fall asleep unexpectedly
- Pairs with the Sleeptracker iOS and Android smartphone app to offer an unprecedented level of detail – providing users with a minute-by-minute snapshot of their journey through each sleep cycle: light sleep, deep sleep and REM
- Features a Sleep Cycle Alarm that detects a light stage of sleep in order to wake users at the ideal time in their sleep cycle
- Offers an AI Sleep Coach that monitors improvement over time and provides effective, easy-to-implement, personal sleep tips based on a comprehensive analysis of individual sleep patterns and external factors that may impact sleep quality
- Integrates with Amazon Echo – soon allowing control of other smart home elements from a single device, such as thermostats, lights, music, alarm systems, door locks and more
The Beautyrest Sleeptracker monitor is compatible with all mattresses and foundations (results may vary depending on the type of mattress and foundation used) and is available on Amazon.com for $199. The Sleeptracker app is available for download on the App Store and Google Play. Visit Beautyrest.com for more information and to find a retailer near you.
About Serta Simmons Bedding, LLC
Serta Simmons Bedding, LLC (SSB) owns and manages two of the largest bedding brands in the mattress industry National Bedding Company L.L.C. (the largest licensee and majority shareholder of Serta, Inc.) and Simmons Bedding Company, LLC. SSB is based in Atlanta and operates 33 manufacturing plants in the United States, five in Canada and one in Puerto Rico. Its subsidiary, National Bedding Company L.L.C., is based in suburban Chicago and markets a broad range of products under the Serta® brand, including Perfect Sleeper®, iComfort®, iSeries®, Sertapedic® and a portfolio of licensed products. In addition to National Bedding Company L.L.C., Serta, Inc. has five other independent licensees in the United States and one in Canada that manufacture and market Serta-branded products. SSB’s other subsidiary, Simmons Bedding Company, LLC, is based in Atlanta and markets a broad range of products including Beautyrest®, Beautyrest Black® and BeautySleep®. Both companies also serve as key suppliers of beds to many of the world’s leading hotel groups and resort properties.
About Fullpower Technologies, Inc.
Fullpower is the leader for cloud-based IoT smart-home and wearable solutions powered by AI, machine-learning and data science. With more than 125 patents, the Fullpower IP portfolio covers the AI-powered Sleeptracker® and the MotionX® IoT technology platforms. Fullpower’s business model is to license technology and IP as a PaaS to brand leaders such as Nike, Beautyrest, Serta, Movado and others. Founded by Philippe Kahn, creator of the first camera-phone, and based in Silicon Valley, the Fullpower team is passionate about AI, machine learning, IoT and PII.
Beautyrest Press Contacts:
Hunter Public Relations on behalf of Beautyrest Blake Kaufman firstname.lastname@example.org
(212) 679-6600 x 41-228
Beautyrest Public Relations
Sensor-fusion is at the heart of our work at Fullpower together with AI, Machine Learning and Sleep and ambulatory sciences.
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Hint: It’s not just one bright idea, repeated several times.
Some people appear to be blessed. They aren’t just lucky enough to have a single right idea at the right time; they keep coming up with more bright ideas that make the world better, or at least are valued enough for a profitable business model. While innovation and market success do not always have a strong correlation, there are a few things the creators often have in common.
It’s one thing to get lucky—to have a bright idea at the exact right moment. But many of the people I admire have been “lucky” several times over, sometimes in different guises. Maybe it’s creating a business that evolves from a solo success to a wide range of profitable endeavors under the same corporate umbrella, such as Amazon’s Jeff Bezos. Or the spark of creativity may touch different realms, such as Philippe Kahn, whose success began with Borland’s Turbo Pascal, then camera phones, and now working in the Internet of Things.
I’ve paid some attention to what these people do differently from the rest of us mere mortals, including the things they don’t notice. Because, often, we take our personal strengths for granted; they are, after all, the things that require the least conscious effort.
Lesson 1: It’s all about technology. Except when it isn’t.
Always lead with technology, says Philippe Kahn. “I’m passionate about making things that help Ms. and Mr. Everyone. At different times, different things. But it all has to be led by unique technology innovation.” You may remember Kahn’s legacy at Borland, which drove software development on microcomputers. At LightSurf, it was the camera phone, accompanied by key patents. “Today at Fullpower, it’s the leading platform for the smartbed in the IoT smarthome, powered by machine learning and data science,” he says, with “a lot of innovation and patents.”
However, the world is full of technology that is inherently cool, but also an answer in search of a solution. Whether an innovation is an improvement over existing solutions (the iPod, a faster CPU, a more affordable compiler) or a disruptive game changer (DVDs by mail, crowdsourced classified ads), it answers questions that people immediately realize they had—as soon as the answer appears.
The technology breakthrough itself can be a distraction. Even though the market makers may talk about technology publicly, says Saul Kaplan, founder of the Business Innovation Factory, their attention usually is on problem solving and business models. It’s part of their DNA, he says. “When they stand in line at the supermarket, they are considering how to improve the buying experience,” he points out. Indeed, architect and inventor Buckminster Fuller was incensed by the time wasted standing in line when the bank tried to “save money” by limiting the number of bank tellers, and actively did the math to figure out how much income generation the bank was losing out on in that false economy.
Serial innovators constantly prototype and try on mental models in search of a better way. “They fix a problem and worry about scale later,” Kaplan says. (“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”—R. Buckminster Fuller)
“Technology can be a force multiplier,” agrees Dave Gray, management consultant and author of The Connected Company (you can read a free chapter here). “What tips the balance in most cases is the culture, the people, the morale. Those kinds of things win.” Gray refers to work from management researcher Saras Sarasvathy, who observed that entrepreneurs focus on their capabilities and ask, “Given what is currently under my control, what kinds of things could I do in the world?”
Kahn’s innovations with the camera phone bear this out. Instead of his team trying to develop manufacturing systems (not their core knowledge set), the inventors benefited economically by their licensing patents and technology to other companies with manufacturing systems. Others, such as Apple, Google/Android, and Samsung were then able to build the industrial powerhouses that still exploit the LightSurf original 1997 vision of “Point, shoot, share instantly.”
Lesson 2: In the desire to move forward, be willing to make your existing products obsolete.
Serial innovators look for opportunities to improve their own products because they’re aware someone else wants their business. “Paranoia is good,” Catherine Ulrich, chief product officer at Shutterstock, told the BBC. “Paranoia makes you think about your competitors, and that’s going to make you better.”
If the customer is going to find a better product, ideally it should be from the entrepreneur’s own company. Surely it was better for Apple to build a Macintosh that might “steal sales” from the Apple//e than to wait for a competitor to invent the next improvement, because the customers’ money all went into the same corporate coffers.
And that means leaving things behind—even if you once were really proud of the innovation. Back in 2007, Steve Jobs talked about the courage it took to remove technology from Apple products—in this case, support for Flash, USB, and floppy disks—saying that leaving them behind lets you “put energy into making those new emerging technologies be great on your platform.”
It’s hard enough for an upstart (or startup) company to “innovate” over its own products, but even more difficult for large companies to do so. That’s most famously examined in Clayton Christensen The Innovator’s Dilemma. (Here’s a great 4-minute video summary, for the impatient.) Once a product becomes a success, innovators—or the organizations they build—are unwilling to endanger it. Instead of chasing dreams and betting the house on them, they turn to incremental improvements and optimization of the status quo.
Or, as Kaplan expresses the sentiment: “You get so busy peddling the bicycle of the way your business works that you create constraints. Then along comes someone else who says, ‘I am not constrained and can solve it another way.’”
This isn’t new, of course. MIT senior research scientist David Clark, in discussing the development of the Internet, described the attitudes about innovation during the 1960s and 1970s. “A major source of doubt and skepticism was the mindset of the traditional telephone companies that basically said: first, it won’t work, and second, if it does work, we’re going to try to kill it because we’re not interested in having something that competes with us. I actually think that this doubt and skepticism was incredibly empowering because it basically meant they didn’t pay attention to us. As long as they didn’t pay attention, we could do anything we wanted, so we built a network more or less over their dead body, but they couldn’t stop us.”
In the 2004 article Why Big Companies Can’t Invent, author and venture capitalist Howard Anderson explained why new technologies are seen as a threat to the market leader’s profit margins. “Why would RCA or GE push solid-state technology when the profits from vacuum tubes were so high? Why would Kodak push for digital cameras when its real money was made in film? All eventually entered these markets, of course, but late, and only when change was inevitable. Major corporations much prefer ‘just-in-time’ innovation—innovation that peaks just as older products are on the back half of their life cycle. But innovation does not choreograph so simply; it comes in fits and starts, defeats mixed with occasional breakthroughs.”
Little has changed. “BlackBerry and Windows both suffered the fate of their owning companies focusing on the thing being sold, instead of the problem being solved,” points out Peter Coffee, VP for strategic research at Salesforce.
Lesson 3: Create a culture of innovation (really).
People bandy about the phrase “create a culture of innovation” as if it’s something you can order from Amazon or from which you get the parts from your local hardware store. But the serial innovators, particularly the ones who keep recreating their companies as well as their products and services, truly do encourage their people to try new things.
“No one here is ever told ‘That’s not your job’ when they propose an innovative action,” says Saleforce’s Coffee. “For that matter, I would say that people here are genuinely expected to innovate without permission (let alone a formal organization).”
To avoid being disrupted, a company has to create conditions for entire new business models. “Take Uber: they didn’t invent anything. They saw a problem, and they created an app,” says Kaplan. A few global transportation companies had all the resources and capabilities to make their own Uber, he points out. “But they were stuck in their business models, with their own rules of the road.” These other companies never had a sandbox in which innovative employees were challenged to “explore the possible business models even if it is disruptive to us.” And Uber was worth more than the global transportation company’s whole industry just a few years later.
Similarly, Sony had a huge division that created the Walkman. It also had a division that managed music talent, under contract. It had all the pieces. But, points out Kaplan, Jobs did it from scratch with the iPod.
For serial innovators, the problem is never the idea. It’s how to get the ideas off the white board and onto the ground. “In the end it’s about a repeatable and scalable business model and the ability to reinvent it,” says Kaplan. “That’s what it’s going to take to constantly stay relevant. And we live in a world that constantly screams for it.”
CHRISTMAS Day was one of the biggest online shopping days of the year.
Experts put it down to our increasing obsession with mobile phones.
So as we hunt out the bargains – frequently on new handsets we’ve just taken out of the Christmas wrapping – here’s what you may not know about your mobile best mate.
The very first smartphone was launched on August 16, 1994, by IBM. It was a pioneer in commercially available touch-screen phones.
Nine out of 10 mobile phones in Japan are waterproof as many people even shower with them.
With a price tag of $15.3 million an Apple iPhone 5, with a 26-carat black diamond in place of the “home” button, became the world’s most expensive phone.
Next year over a third of the world’s population will own a smartphone, with 2.6 billion users.
Since Apple’s App Store was created in 2008, more than 140 billion apps have been downloaded – but a quarter are only used once in the six months after downloading.
Almost 85% of phones use the Android operating system – like Samsung’s – not Apple’s iOS.
You should charge your phone little and often and not necessarily leave it charging overnight when it has reached 100%.
Studies have shown the average mobile phone is covered with 18 times more bacteria than a toilet handle.
Mobile phones are now so common some people have developed a fear of being without one. This is called nomophobia.
Even if you have an older phone it’s still around 30,000 times more powerful than the computers used to take Apollo 11 astronauts to the moon.
A staggering seven trillion texts are sent every year worldwide.
In the UK 93% of adults own a mobile phone and 14% of us now live in a home without a landline.
The first portable phone was called a DynaTAC. The original model had 35 minutes of battery life and weighed a kilo.
The first public mobile phone call in the UK was made by comedian Ernie Wise in 1985 from St Katharine dock to the Vodafone head offices.
Less than one in 10 Eritreans have a mobile phone subscription – but in Kuwait there are more than two for every person.
The first photo message ever was sent in 1997. The inventor, Philippe Kahn, took a snap of his newborn daughter Sophie and sent it to friends and relatives.
Each person in the UK sends on average 170 text messages every month.
The Sonim XP3300 is officially recognised as the world’s toughest mobile. It can be dropped 84ft on to solid ground without breaking.
Forget iPhones or Samsung Galaxys – the world’s biggest selling phone is the classic Nokia 1100. There have been 250 million of these handsets sold over the years.
Sick of your phone’s battery running out? Try Russia’s Vobis Highscreen Boost 2. It boasts two batteries and doesn’t require recharging for two weeks.
The Willcom WX06A is officially the world’s smallest phone, measuring just 3.2cm long. The battery is so small it only has a life of two hours.
Think your phone bill is too big? Spare a thought for Frenchwoman Solenne San Jose. Her bill clocked in at £9.5 quadrillion (that’s nearly 40 times the combined wealth of the entire world). Thankfully it was a mistake and she didn’t have to cough up.
The first ever text message came from a Vodafone engineer to his boss. It was sent on Christmas Eve and read, appropriately enough, “Happy Christmas”!