The Camera Bag: The Descriptive Camera Churns Out Words Instead of Pictures


posted Wednesday, April 25, 2012 at 4:44 PM EST

Ok, this is pretty clever. It's called The Descriptive Camera and it's the creation of Matt Richardson, an NYU student who says he was fascinated that digital cameras capture "gobs of parsable metadata about photos" including settings, GPS location data, date, time etc. but "they don't output any information about the content of the photo."

The Descriptive Camera, in contrast, "only outputs the metadata about the content." Or, in other words, when the button of the camera is pushed, a piece of paper comes out with words describing the scene, rather than an actual photo of the scene.

How does it work?

The Descriptive Camera employs Amazon's "Mechanical Turk" service, which uses real humans to perform tasks that computers can't. In this case, a USB web cam is connected to a thermal printer, along with an electrical board that runs software Richardson created.

When the camera snaps a photo, it's sent off to humans from the Mechanical Turn service, who write up a short description of the photo that's then printed out on a small sheet of paper that looks like a grocery store receipt. The total time from capture to descriptive print out is anywhere from three to six minutes.

For instance, instead of an image of an unattractive piece of furniture (right), The Descriptive Camera prints out "Looks like a cupboard which is ugly and old having name plates on it with a study lamp attached to it."

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. With The Descriptive Camera, it's worth about twenty.

More info on how Richardson built the device on his website.

(Via Betabeat)