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The labs sessions at EmTech India were the most interesting – with companies showcasing some of the products that they’re working on. Ramesh Raskar of MIT Media Lab spoke about the cameras, pointing out, incidentally that the largest number of cameras today are embedded in mobile phones; the second highest in the optical mouse. 

Visual Social Computing

According to Raskar, visual social computing defines the power shift – it may be the move to image based commenrce – computing by the people, for the people, and of the people. In this case, people are rating others, based on what image they have of them. The fact that a seller is very reliable cannot be decided by a computer, but by people; So we are computing the characteristics of people. “We’re very good at text and knowledge power in India. Are there any models that can be based on such methods?”

 

The implications of this shift are immense – for example, the media has its own agenda, so how do we know what the truth is? Is there truth in images?

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He showed an image published in the LA times, which showed an American soldier pointing a gun at a man with a baby. It turned out to be a manipulated image, and this was verified by the two photos which had been combined. What happens if there are muliple cameras on location – the media would be held more accountable, as would the government. “People becoming not just consumers of media, but creators of media. Every mobile phone in India can be its own TV station in 10 years. ”

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Giving the example of crowdsourcing, Raskar said that people are performing the task of computers in collecting and analysing information – in that sense, people are the network today. 

 

 

Speaking about upcoming developments in the camera space, Raskar mentioned the development of a cosine mask for a camera that can help take 4-dimensional images using 4D tiles, so you can automatically modify the focus of that image – even if you chose to focus on an element in the front (so an element at the back would be blurred), because the photo is 4D, you can change its focus.

 

 

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He also mentioned the development of a camera for automatically creating illustrations from photographs. At present, because of the lens in use, shadows make it difficult for images to be scanned and converted into illustrations. so a camera with a flash from four directions ensures that there are no shadows.

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Also under development is a flutter shutter camera, wherein the shutter is opened and shut quickly for reducing motion blur.