Have you ever seen a funky camera without even lens? A designer ideates a lensless “camera” that uses location data along with AI tools to generate pictures of places or moment.
We’ve seen different models and qualities of camera, but this one is completely uncanny in its appearance and functioning. It has no lens to look through, and hence couldn’t put you into the frame, but could visualize what a place or moment looks like, and construct a photo out of it.
Called the “Paragraphica”, the camera utilizes location data and artificial intelligence to sketch a specific place and moment. “The camera displays a description of your current location, utilizing the address, weather, time of day and nearby places,” reads the project’s website.
Camera with no lens – Paragraphica
Paragraphica outreaches the regular way of taking photos, by deploying AI to visualize a place or moment with an auto-created paragraph as input. So it’s generally a text-to-image AI, while processing the location information too.
When pressing the trigger, the camera will create a scintigraphic representation of the description. Paragraphica operates by collecting data from the users’ location using open APIs and combine all data points to compose a paragraph by itself that details a representation of the current place and moment. The paragraph is then converted to a “photo” using a text-to-image AI.
“The resulting “photo” is not just a snapshot, but a visual data visualization and reflection of the location you are at, and perhaps how the AI model “sees” that place,” says Paragraphica’s webpage.
What is it like?
Paragraphica camera has three dials on top of it where you can adjust radius, film grain and guidance scale. Maneuvering the radius dial is similar to adjusting a focal length in optical lens, but controls radius of the area that the camera searches for places and data. The second film-grain dial, has a value between 0.1 and 1 for seeding in noise for the AI image diffusion process. And the third dial – guidance scale, is for precision of implication to the paragraph of location that’s created. An increased guidance scale will have a sharper and better picture.
The camera also has a virtual version of it, which you can access it here and try it yourself, paying $2 via PayPal. The online version of Paragraphica also has three dials but for different purposes. The first one is same as above – radius. While the second one is various styles of photo rendering – sketch, analog film, oil paint, and poly 3D, and the third dial is for choosing the year of capturing the place. It lets you to click pictures irrespective of time, visualizing how the place would have been in past or in future, assigning the job to AI.
The camera uses technology for capturing pictures of only places and not you. But why would anyone need a camera without being able to click pictures of you? It’s creator has answer for that.
Paragraphica is an Art
Bjorn Karmann from Netherlands, the designer behind this camera, says that the purpose of Paragraphica is to onlook how AI would perceive the world in various circumstances. “As AI language models are increasingly becoming conscious, we too will have limited imagination of how they will see the world. The camera offers a way of experiencing the world around us, one that is not limited to visual perception alone,” writes Paragraphica.
Karmann did clarify in a twitter thread that his creation is simply a “passion art project”, noting that he has “no intention of making a product or challenging photography” with it. Rather, “it’s questioning the role of AI in a time of creative tension”.
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