Stanford photo scientists are out to reinvent digital photography with the introduction of an open-source digital camera, which will give programmers around the world the chance to create software that will teach cameras new tricks.
If the technology catches on, camera performance will be no longer be limited by the software that comes pre-installed by the manufacturer. Virtually all the features of the Stanford camera – focus, exposure, shutter speed, flash, etc. – are at the command of software that can be created by inspired programmers anywhere. “The premise of the project is to build a camera that is open source,” said computer science professor Marc Levoy.
Computer science graduate student Andrew Adams, who helped design the prototype of the Stanford camera (dubbed Frankencamera,) imagines a future where consumers download applications to their open-platform cameras the way Apple apps are downloaded to iPhones today. When the camera’s operating software is made available publicly, perhaps a year from now, users will be able to continuously improve it, along the open-source model of the Linux operating system for computers or the Mozilla Firefox web browser.
From there, the sky’s the limit. Programmers will have the freedom to experiment with new ways of tuning the camera’s response to light and motion, adding their own algorithms to process the raw images in innovative ways.
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