The Imaging Square online image service, first unveiled in January, has undergone a radical overhaul that has added a range of new functions and ways for users to share their pictures.
More than 300,000 people signed up for the free service in the eight months after it was first launched, and Casio has high hopes that users who were impressed by the ability to turn snaps into works of art will be similarly keen to sign up for the enhanced version, even though it is now a paid-for service. Access to the new Imaging Square site, which went live in late August, now costs Y315 (€2.98) per month. The previous version of the system is available in the rest of the world for free.
Other camera companies including Canon, Olympus and Nikon provide their users with websites where they are able to store and showcase their images, but no other firms have created a way of converting a photo into art in so many different ways and then sharing it.
In 2010, Casio released a digital camera with high dynamic range technology that combined several shots with differing exposures at the press of the shutter button to create artistic images within the camera. The Imaging Square technology took that one step further.
Users were able to upload a digital photo taken on any camera, cell phone or other device, load it onto the site and then manipulate it into a piece of art. The technology took a regular photo and rendered it into an image in the form of an oil painting, a watercolor, a pastel painting, an airbrush image or a color pencil sketch, among others.
The updated system is on a comprehensive website that not only adds a range of digital craft conversion options, such as a collage image or stitchwork, but an improved gallery section where a user can post their images and friends can access them, while Casio has also made it possible to directly send the manipulated images to sites such Facebook, Twitter and Mixi, the hugely popular Japanese social network site.
But arguably the most popular new function on the new website will be the introduction of DP animation, which allows a user to clip a person from a still digital image and then superimpose it onto another image. Through Casio's animation creation technology and the application of a soundtrack, the person can then be made to move such as dancing to a popular tune.