Have you ever tried to snap photos through the window, say of the skyscrapers surrounding the one you are in? If yes, you must know how annoying it is because of the light bouncing off it and how it ruins your picture. To fix the pesky reflections, MIT Media Lab’s camera Culture Group is working on a camera that can capture photos through glasses without any reflection.
The team has developed a system that measures the time of a flash to bounce back of nearby objects (including glasses) and the objects that are farther away, also the intensity of light reflected by objects. Albeit, for the earlier iterations, an ultrafast streak camera was used, researchers used and altered a device with a deep sensor, especially for this project: a Kinect camera.
Modifying the Kinect to make sure that it can beam specific frequencies of light wasn’t that easy. The research group teamed up with Microsoft Research and developed an algorithm that can intercept reflections from different depths.
“For this challenging problem, everyone would think that you’d need expensive, research-grade, bulky lab equipment. This is a very elegant and inspiring line of work,” said Laurent Daudet, a professor of physics at Paris Diderot University. He particularly enjoyed that the team used consumer product for their experiment. However, with the built-in anti-glare feature, this system could lead to reasonably priced cameras in the future.
This is not the first time that someone is working to make a reflection free camera. Previously, another team from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence teamed up with Google to work on an algorithm for reflection free photos. They used different frames from a short video to cut off obstacles (such as reflection) from the actual object you want to shoot.