As A.I. is getting stronger and more potent, I wanted to see if it is capable of writing a Product Requirement Document (PRD) for the perfect mirrorless camera. Getting a good PRD for a new product is at the heart of camera brands’ work. You can think about it as an effort to decipher the needs of the market and then to bring a product that will meet those needs.
If the PRD is bad, no good camera will come out of it. Of course, a good PRD does not provide a guarantee to a good product, it can still fail on R&D, Manufacturing, Marketing, Supply chain issues and a million other things. But a good PRD is the foundation on which a camera is built. And if the foundation sucks, no amount of R&D, logistics or marketing can turn it into a good camera.
For example, a PRD will decide if a new camera needs an 8K sensor, flash sync speed of 1/500, or how much battery a camera needs to be enticing to its market. It will usually address a market (say, amateur, prosumer, or pro), maybe demographics, budget, and anything that can set the direction for the huge boat that is a camera brand.
Being such a critical milestone for camera brands, I thought it would be interesting to ask an A.I. (open ai GPT3 chatbot in this instance) to save some work for Canon’s and Sony’s marketing teams and see what A.I. will come up with.
My first try: just ask for a PRD
I thought I would try a naive approach first, and simply asked for a PRD. This was my question:
Please write a PRD for the perfect mirrorless camera
Here is what the A.I answered:
Product Requirements Document for the Perfect Mirrorless Camera
- Sensor: The camera should have a full-frame sensor with at least 36 megapixels of resolution to ensure high image quality and low noise in low-light conditions.
- Autofocus: The camera should have advanced autofocus capabilities with fast and accurate tracking of moving subjects. It should also have Face and Eye detection to ensure proper focus on people.
- Image stabilization: The camera should have in-body image stabilization to reduce camera shake and improve sharpness in low-light conditions.
- Video recording: The camera should be able to record high-quality 4K video with a high frame rate of at least 60fps and have advanced video features such as slow-motion, time-lapse, and log video recording.
- Build and ergonomics: The camera should have a weather-sealed body with a durable build quality and a comfortable grip. It should also have customizable buttons and a touch screen for easy access to settings and controls.
- Connectivity: The camera should have built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for easy sharing and remote control of the camera. It should also have a USB-C port for fast data transfer and charging.
- Battery life: The camera should have a long battery life of at least 800 shots per charge.
- Lenses: The camera should have a wide range of compatible lenses, including high-quality native lenses, for different shooting scenarios.
- Price: The camera should be competitively priced for a high-end mirrorless camera.
- Software: The camera should have a robust software ecosystem, with advanced editing and post-processing tools, as well as seamless integration with cloud storage and other photo management platforms.
I have to say, this is not bad. It is far from being specific enough, but it’s a good start. It touches on most of the important areas of a new mirrorless camera. It did lack some critical information for a good PRD: price, “hard specs”, and basically some solid numbers and specs. The only place with actionable information was the battery section: “800 shots per charge” is something grounded enough to work with.
So I asked the AI for some pricing info:
Please expand on item 9, price
Like any good marketing person, the A.I. evaded a direct answer. Lots of chatter but no beef.
Item 9: Price: The camera should be competitively priced for a high-end mirrorless camera.
The camera should be priced in a way that is competitive with other high-end mirrorless cameras in the market. This will help ensure that the camera is accessible to professional photographers and enthusiasts who are looking for a high-quality camera at a reasonable price.
The price should also be in line with the features and capabilities of the camera. For example, if the camera has advanced autofocus, high-resolution sensors, and advanced video features, then it would be reasonable to price the camera at a premium level.
Additionally, the camera should have a good value proposition, meaning that its price should be justified by the quality and capabilities of the camera. This will help ensure that the camera is seen as a good investment for photographers and that they feel confident in their purchase.
Finally, the camera should be priced competitively with other similar cameras in the market, keeping in mind that the price should be reasonable and in line with the features and capabilities of the camera.
A second try: asking for the specifics
If I were a manager at Sony, I would not be happy right now. This PRD gives me almost nothing to feed to the other departments in the company: R&D, Logistics, Marketing, and Manufacturing. Actually, I can ask them to start designing a battery for the new camera. YAY.
Before firing the A.I. from its newly acquired product manager, I wanted to give te A.I a fair chance. Armed with the deficiencies of the previous request, I made another PRD request:
Please write the PRD for a perfect Sony mirrorless camera. Include precise information about price, sensor technology and capabilities, video mods, connectivity, LCD/viewfinder resolution, and please be as specific as possible regarding the requirements
The answer I got this time was far better. It was longer and definitely more detailed:
Product Requirements Document
Product Name: Sony Mirrorless Camera
This PRD outlines the requirements for a top-of-the-line Sony mirrorless camera. The camera will feature the latest sensor technology and capabilities, advanced video modes, and seamless connectivity options. The camera will also have a high-resolution LCD and viewfinder for optimal image composition and review.
The camera will be priced at $3,000 or above.
Sensor Technology and Capabilities:
- Full-frame sensor with a resolution of at least 42 megapixels.
- Dual pixel autofocus with real-time tracking and Eye AF.
- ISO range of 100-51,200 with expandable options up to 204,800.
- In-body image stabilization.
- High-speed continuous shooting of at least 20 fps.
- 14-bit raw image capture.
- 4K video recording at 60 fps with full sensor readout and no crop.
- 10-bit 4:2:2 internal recording with HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma) and S-Log3/S-Gamut3.
- Slow-motion video recording at 120 fps in Full HD.
- External 4K HDR (HLG) output via HDMI.
- 3.5mm headphone and microphone jacks for audio recording.
- Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for wireless image transfer and camera control.
- USB-C port for fast data transfer and charging.
- Ethernet port for wired connection.
- PC Remote control via USB.
- Support for tethered shooting via USB or Ethernet.
LCD and Viewfinder:
- 3.0-inch tilting LCD with a resolution of at least 1.4 million dots.
- 0.5-inch OLED electronic viewfinder with a resolution of at least 3.69 million dots.
- Touchscreen functionality for menu navigation and image review.
- 100% coverage of the frame in the viewfinder and LCD.
Overall, the Sony mirrorless camera will be a high-end option for professional photographers and videographers looking for the latest technology and advanced features in a mirrorless camera. The camera will be able to capture stunning stills and videos with professional-level quality and precision, and will have a wide range of connectivity options for seamless workflow and collaboration.
Is A.I. even capable of creating a good new camera PRD?
This was a much better PRD. If I were a Sony executive, at first glance, I would probably congratulate the Product manager that created this PRD. But as I got deeper into the specs, I’d probably realize that it would be very hard for an AI to creat a good PRD for a new camera.
Actually, the incapability to generate a good PRD is inherent to the state of A.I. today. You see, to generate a camera PRD, the A.I. is putting together two bits of information. The first is what a PRD should look like. And the A.I. is doing stellar work here. This is probably based on millions of PRDs that were used to train the A.I.
The second bit is the actual features. Since we are dealing with a perfect camera, many of those features probably do not exist yet. If the A.I. is spitting out the best PRD that it can based on all existing PRDs that it read, how can it address features that were not present in any PRD yet.
This limitation will categorically block the A.I. from suggesting a new lens mount, like a next-generation Canon R or Sony E, simply because those do not exist yet to learn about. Similarly, any new codec, memory card, or technology that has not been introduced to the market yet, can not find its way into an A.I. generated PRD.
Here is my final take. If you want a camera based on current tech, the A.I. will be fine. If you want to innovate, you’d better have a d–n good product team.
P.s. it seems fitting to use A.I. generated sony camera illustrations for this article.