A camera that describes a picture for you

[Matt]‘s Descriptive Camera looks just like any other point and shoot camera, albeit a little more boxy and homemade-looking. It even works just like the Polaroids of yesteryear – snap a picture and in a few minutes you’ve got a reproduction in your hands. Unlike any other camera before, [Matt]‘s camera doesn’t give you an image. [Matt]‘s camera gives you a description of the picture you took, printed out on  easily-scrapbooked thermal receipt paper. Yes, mankind is now that meta.

To build the hardware of his camera, [Matt] took a BeagleBone single-board Linux computer and attached a webcam and a thermal receipt printer. The real magic is in the artificial artificial intelligence that is Mechanical Turk. [Matt]‘s camera sends his picture up to the Internet where some random stranger describes his picture. This description is sent back and printed on the receipt paper.

Even though [Matt] is spending $1.25 to have a single picture described on Mechanical Turk, there’s probably not another camera as retro-meta-fabulous-fantastic out there.


  1. macegr says:

    You take the tool chest.
    > LOOK BAG
    You look inside the bag. Contents: nothing.
    The doorway is pitch dark. You have been eaten by a grue.

  2. Dax says:

    Only problem is, the thermal printer tape will fade.

  3. achuwilson says:

    it was a nice build, exploiting the power of mechanical turk. Congrats

  4. LASIK says:

    haha this is crazy project, but kind of nice though :-)
    it is good for max 3-4 picture per month, or it will become a real money spender :-)

  5. Joe says:

    It would be awesome to play a MUDS version of Modern Warfare III or Minecraft. There is a block, stacked on top of a block, and there is another block on top of that.

  6. chrisallick says:


  7. joelaud says:

    Printing in Braille would allow vision impaired people to access images they capture. In some cases it could be a life saving device.

  8. Hirudinea says:

    I’ed like to see this camera pointed at a movie, reminds me of Brian describing Blair Witch in Family Guy, “Nothings happening, nothings happening, nothings happening, it’s over, a lot of people look pissed.”

  9. Jarel says:

    Ugh. Stop using the prefix “meta” like it’s a word.

    Using “meta” isn’t even all that appropriate because it’s text describing a picture. That would make it “image metadata”. Not so trendy sounding now, is it? Yes information like this belongs in the comment portion of EXIF data. That’s what it is!

  10. Rizla++ says:

    Maybe the best project in all the internetS!

    I’m still laughing, epic… :D

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