Innovation Watch

Sony QX-1 / QX-10

Wireless Camera for Mobile Devices

Sony has developed consumer-oriented cameras that can connect to smartphones or tablets via a WiFi connection.  Within the telehealth world this means that you can now control a camera and capture high-resolution images directly to a mobile device without needing to swap memory cards, plug in cables, or otherwise introduce a personal computer into the mix.  There are multiple cameras that they offer in their DSC-QX lineup; TTAC looked at the QX-1 and QX-10 to see how these products might work within the world of telehealth.

These cameras eschew the normal digital camera form factor by moving the LCD screen and viewfinder functions (and pretty much everything else) to your smartphone.  This results in products that are essentially lenses with wireless connections to your phone.  The QX-10 camera is a point-and-shoot camera—meaning that the lens cannot be changed out—while the QX-1 is designed to support interchangeable lenses.  Each of these cameras have different implications and qualities.

The QX-10 is scarcely bigger than the normal lens mechanism that you would find on a typical consumer point-and-shoot camera, and includes a threaded tripod mount, power button, shutter control, zoom switch, small digital readout that indicates battery and storage capacity, microUSB port, a sliding cover that hides a battery and microSD slot, and a removable smartphone mount.  The device can be used without being paired to a phone if a microSD card is inserted, though this function is likely of limited use for most telehealth encounters as the lack of a screen makes it impossible to know how the image is framed or focused.

The body of the QX-1 is larger than the QX-10, and when a lens is attached this difference becomes that much more pronounced.  The QX-1 includes the same basic components of the QX-10 with the addition of a built-in flash and Sony E-Mount for interchangeable lenses.  As with the QX-10, the QX-1 can be used without being paired to a phone though with the same concerns around framing and focus.  There are numerous lenses that will fit this camera, as well as converters if you need to mount other lens types to this device (including Sony A, Canon EF, and Nikon F).

The cameras are controlled through the Play Memories application once the phone is paired to WiFi access points built into the cameras.  The app does leave the cameras to operate in mostly-automatic modes, meaning that some of the finer controls for shutter speed, aperture, and ISO cannot be manipulated the way one might expect on higher-end digital cameras.  Focus can be adjusted by tapping on the live video display on your smartphone or tablet.

Both of these cameras offer a marked improvement over most stock camera lenses, though some higher-end smartphones challenge the QX-10 in terms of sharpness and dynamic range.  The QX-1 produces a much sharper image, and the wide range of lenses opens up some exciting photographic possibilities.

In terms of telehealth applications, the QX-1 might be the most interesting as the combination of macro lenses and dermatology lighting configurations allows for capturing diagnostic-quality images directly to a smart phone or tablet.  In the testing of this product, TTAC used the DoctorsEyes LED lighting solution with a 35mm macro lens and 49-72mm step ring adapter.  With the right mobile app for store-and-forward telemedicine it becomes possible to take outstanding images without needing to hook up a camera to a laptop or PC.

The move towards wireless transmission of video and images is a promising one for those who have hopes of shifting from large carts with cables and connectors towards a mobile-centric telehealth platform.  At the time of this writing, other camera manufacturers are also now offering similar products.

 

Product Specifications (QX-10):

  • Size: 2.5” x 2.4” x 1.2”, 3.17oz (lens retracted)
  • Max Resolution: 18MP, 4896 x 3672
  • Video Resolution: 1440x1080 30fps
  • File Formats: JPEG, MP4
  • ISO: 100-3200 (Extended Mode up to 12800)

 

Product Specifications (QX-1):

  • Size: 2.9” x 2.7” x 2.1”, 5.57oz (body, no lens attached)
  • Max Resolution: 20MP, 5456 x 3632
  • Video Resolution: 1920x1080 30fps
  • File Formats: JPEG, RAW, MP4
  • ISO: 100-16000