A recently-published Canon patent application, which was filed in April 2011, elaborates on the DSLR touchscreen features in a similar application published in 2009. The application focuses on the operation of the touchscreen in conjunction with the viewfinder’s eye proximity sensor (which shuts off the display when the camera is raised to the eye).
The main point of the patent application is to emphasize the need for a non-touchscreen portion of the display that is directly adjacent to the eye proximity sensor. As you can see in the above image, the top portion of the display is intended to only provide information, while the bottom portion of the display allows you to make adjustments by either tapping on certain numbers or icons – or by making swipes to make range-based adjustments.
What’s interesting to note about the application is that the patent drawings are very familiar to the body-type of the Canon Rebel T3i. Given the proliferation of touchscreen technology, it’s real possibility that the Rebel T4i (or whatever it’s called) will feature a touchscreen.
The other interesting nugget in this patent application is the presence of a WiFi indicator on the camera diagrams. The application only mentions this in passing within the text (referencing “display options indicating . . . radio field intensity [and] LAN connection”); however, this kind of integration is something that would not necessarily be unexpected in an upcoming model.
Canon cameras with touchscreens have not impressed me much to date (like the scrolling action in the ELPH 500 HS, which is otherwise a nice camera). For Canon to pull off the touchscreen display on a DSLR, I think it is really going to have to bring its A-game. It has the potential to be a big deal, particularly on entry-level models. However, if Canon does not get it right, a touchscreen could be a major turn off for an entire DSLR model lifespan (generally about a year for entry-level models).
What really gets me excited, however, is the WiFi integration. Let me sync up with my laptop for wireless tethering and I’ll be all about that. Hopefully, that kind of functionality is where Canon is going with this, but I could see it being limited to image download over the network as the feature comes out of the gate, which would make sense on an entry-level model. If a new 1-Series debuted built-in WiFi though, anything less than WiFi tethering would be a bit of a let down.
If you want to check out the full text of the patent application, you can download it here.
What are your thoughts and hopes for touchscreen and WiFi operation in a future DSLR?