Created by an NYU student with the aim of shining some light on the impossible task of managing the enormous amounts of photographic data that we're producing daily. This camera is just like any other, except that instead of producing an image, it produces a text description of the scene it's captured.
Fascinating stuff, but before you go assuming things... this is a prototype and rather than having some incredibly advanced AI produce the descriptions, it's a bit more basic than that.
The technology at the core of the Descriptive Camera is Amazon's Mechanical Turk API. It allows a developer to submit Human Intelligence Tasks (HITs) for workers on the internet to complete. The developer sets the guidelines for each task and designs the interface for the worker to submit their results. The developer also sets the price they're willing to pay for the successful completion of each task. An approval and reputation system ensures that workers are incented to deliver acceptable results. For faster and cheaper results, the camera can also be put into "accomplice mode," where it will send an instant message to any other person. That IM will contain a link to the picture and a form where they can input the description of the image.
So, it's really just an automated system of tasking a human with creating a descriptive bit of text for an image.
After the shutter button is pressed, the photo is sent ... for processing and the camera waits for the results. A yellow LED indicates that the results are still "developing" in a nod to film-based photo technology. With a HIT price of $1.25, results are returned typically within 6 minutes and sometimes as fast as 3 minutes.
Still, a really interesting result and a cool concept. Check out more of the results and the full prototype page here.
I'll hold out on a purchase until the AI is up and running... what if the guy writing the description is having a bad day? "This is a stupid picture of some weird-looking, stupid people who suck."