A couple of weeks back I attended a very interesting presentation by Dr Ramesh Raskar from the MIT Media Labs. Presentation talked about the thousands and thousands of cameras that are coming into play due to the camera phones. The first billion cameras took centuries to be there and now in a short period another billion are almost there. This phenomena opens up a huge world of possibilities. The trends show that in the next 5-7 years most cellphones will be able to transmit as well as receive photos and video.
Of course for us to be able to leverage or even realize the possibilities a large number of digital processing techniques and software have to be figured out. Here is a quick snapshot of what I heard:
MIT is working on various technologies to leverage the next billion cameras - a few of them listed here:
1. Digital technology for focusing the image after it has been shot -- he did demonstrate this and it seemed quite plausible. No longer does one need to worry about the photographers skills.
2. Creating a 3D picture out of a 2D photo - imagine the range of applications this will open up.
3. Creating 6D images -- I wondered what 6D would be -- he explained that we know 2D -- then we add perspectives to the image on the horizontal and vertical planes -- making it a 4D image. Now, if an image can respond to lighting and reflections in a real environment -- like a real object -- then we have a 6D image.
And some applications that will have quick impact:
1. Visual Social computing thru photo synthesis: An extension of crowdsourcing. A district/municipal segment could build real imagery of a location through photo submissions by local citizens. A much more accurate and reliable view.
2. Photo-analysis is tough for any computing system -- whereas the human eye can identify much faster -- so using again the power of the people -- putting out a photo on the net for recognition of elements or items within it.
So then can we start thinking of applications that educate and empower leveraging the next billion cameras?