The impact of the camera phone

“We were going to have a baby and I wanted to share the pictures with family and friends,” Kahn said, “and there was no easy way to do it.”

So as he sat in a maternity ward, he wrote a crude program on his laptop and sent an assistant to a RadioShack store to get a soldering iron, capacitors and other supplies to wire his digital camera to his cell phone. When Sophie was born, he sent her photo over a cellular connection to acquaintances around the globe.

A decade later, 41 percent of American households own a camera phone “and you can hardly find a phone without a camera anymore,” said Michael Cai, an industry analyst at Parks Associates.

It’s interesting to hear the inventor of the camera phone, now 55, speak of the ubiquity of his invention and the manner in which it is being used. My work on Online Dispute Resolution using mobile phones, or much of the work of Witness’ Human Rights Video Hub would not be possible without Philippe Kahn’s innovation.

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