Insane automated photo compositing tool

While I can’t pretend to know the intricate differences between a jpg and a png, I’ve got an appreciation of the science and mathematics that goes into imaging technology. Every so often a strange new development from MIT’s media lab crosses my radar, as happened a couple weeks ago with Bokode, a barcode hidden and read in out-of-focus areas of a picture which could allow something like physical hyperlinking of data on a webpage to physical objects through photographs made of the image or Nintendo Wii-like interactivity in the classroom or in public areas. Weird stuff with much cool science behind the scenes.

Photosketch, which has since been renamed, is just one such weird academic research project which could radically change the way we interact with photos or, um, decorate our myspace pages. It’s got to be seen to be believed; the video‘s at the top of the post. Basically, you make a couple line drawings with labels, and the software automatically grabs images from the internet and relatively seamlessly creates a new image with all of the specified elements. Sounds crazy. Is crazy.

Here’s a layman’s explanation, but really you should just watch the video. There’s some talk that the whole thing’s a hoax, but the paper announcing the demo came from a couple of researchers associated with related image research and Photosketch was presented at a respected graphics technology symposium. The source code was purportedly available at some point, but it’s disappeared since I first read accounts of the technology. I was hoping to illustrate the post with a picture of me photographing a unicorn in a coral reef while a UFO flew by….

Heather Morton has a roundup of perspectives on the tool.

(first spotted on

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