A very real problem with digital photography is handling highlights. With film, too much light means it gracefully tapers off into saturation. A digital sensor just stops hard at completely white.
The big companies have tackled this by improving dynamic range, auto exposure and giving you warnings about blown highlights. It works. But there could be another way: non-linear amplification at the sensor. Purposefully apply a distortion curve to give lots of gain at low intensity and smooth it off as it reaches the top.
Of course you could do this with silicon. But lo, there is another way of applying non-linear gain -- vacuum tubes!
A camera with exposed vacuum tubes. I am certain there is a market for this.