Samsung's Korean headquarters this week, where we had an opportunity to sit down with the company's research and development team to talk about the past, present and future of digital imaging. One interesting bit of discussion: Samsung is considering an "open" camera operating system. It's still early days and nothing is confirmed but, given the company's support for Android on other platforms, that OS would be a logical choice. What we know is that Samsung R&D has been researching bringing Android to its digital cameras -- a move that would be far from shocking, considering that development teams do tend to collaborate, and the company clearly has experience with the Google OS. And while there are likely to be such open OS prototypes buried deep within Sammy HQ, they're mere experiments at this point -- at least from a production perspective.
What exactly would an OS like Android mean for digital camera users? It could be a major breakthrough from a usability standpoint, opening up the in-camera ecosystem to third-party developers. We could see Twitter and Facebook apps that let you not only publish your photos directly with a familiar interface, but also see photos shared by your friends. A capacitive touchscreen would let you type in comments directly as well. You could publish to web-based services, utilize apps that enable post-capture creativity or receive firmware updates directly over WiFi. That hotshoe or USB port could accommodate a variety of different accessories, like a microphone or 4G modem that could be used with several models, including those from other manufacturers. While there's nothing making Android integration impossible from a technical standpoint, there are obvious disadvantages as well -- especially for camera makers. Stability would become an issue -- your camera could need a reboot just as often as your smartphone -- and such a powerful imaging device could theoretically cannibalize tablets and smartphones, though on a limited scale. Sadly this is merely educated speculation at this point, pending a product announcement from Samsung, though we wouldn't be surprised to see it come to fruition -- perhaps even before the next CES.
Update: Samsung reached out to us asking to clarify that this is simply something under consideration; nothing is confirmed yet. We've updated the post above to match.