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.

23 thoughts on “A camera that describes a picture for you

    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.

    1. Can someone explain why anyone would do this? I’ve gone through the rewards for doing the jobs posted there and all of them are horribly underpaid. 5-15$ for transcribing 10-30 minute audiofiles? that can take hours.

      1. Low pay is better than no pay. Yes, a job might pay more, but how many jobs do you know that let you work a couple hours between say 1 to 3 am or during lunch time?

        The flexibility that MT provides in both hours and place is unmatched by almost any other remunerated work.

  2. 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 :-)

  3. 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.

    1. Wow. You took something completely hipster-retro and meta, and came up with a use case that actually seems relevant and incredibly useful!

      1. actually id just feed the text into a speech synthesis device to headphones for the blind individual. then just speed up the process of capture and decode, and feed a semi-real time description of the environment to the earpiece.

  4. 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.”

  5. 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!

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