Trend-spotting: Intelligent Pixels Everywhere

By September 27, 2011Strictly Business Blog

I’m constantly on the lookout for emerging trends I feel will significantly impact photography, video and visual marketing, computational photography and 3D projection mapping (a.k.a. spacial augmented reality). Here are some trends I see going places.

Computational Photography
Distilled to its essence, computational photography aims at adding intelligence to the process of taking a picture or capturing video. It helps to think of it this way. Our cameras today are “dumb” devices. They record the light reaching the sensor without any understanding of the content being recorded or the spacial relationships between objects in the scene.

By comparison, computational photography is a “smarter” process. By capturing multiple images and making comparisons between the contents of those images, your camera is better able to infer depth and spacial relationships between objects in the scene, extend the dynamic range of the capture, or allow for sophisticated post-processing like noise reduction, adjusting focus or depth of field on your computer instead of in the camera.

Paired with a smartphone-like Internet connection, possibilities are magnified to integrate location, position and image recognition to your photography.

Right now, much of this research is being conducted in the labs of universities and manufacturing facilities (e.g. Stanford, MIT Media Lab, Adobe, NVIDIA, etc.). We’ll most likely begin seeing the results of this testing in smartphones phones first, then dSLRs. I eagerly await the results.

Computational Photography: Resources and samples


3D Projection Mapping
3D Projection mapping, more accurately called spacial augmented reality, projects images onto the physical environment. What makes 3D projection mapping different than, say, projecting an image onto a screen, is that the three-dimensional geometry of the surface receiving the projection (e.g. a building or studio set) is used to pre-distort the projected image. This means the image takes on the shape and physical characteristics of the surface upon which it is projected.

It’s much easier to show you projection mapping than describe it, so here are three examples of 3D projection mapping in action. Right now, there are a handful of companies producing high-end projection mapping events for large companies, and a number of video DJ’s who pair geometric designs, bold patterns and brash colors to music, but there aren’t many uses in-between. My hunch is this middle ground is an area ripe for exploration by intrepid photographers.

From an artistic perspective, the concept of being able to create environments from digital photos, videos and graphics is quite tantalizing.

3d Projection Mapping Samples