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

    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.

      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.

  1. 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.”

  2. 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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