A lens-free camera prototype called Paragraphica, which uses a photographer’s location information to deliver an AI-generated photo of the scene, is making rounds online after it was unveiled in late May.
Bjørn Karmann, an experience and interaction designer, introduced the camera-like device that is inspired by the snout of the star-nosed mole. He claimed the camera used data such as his location, local time, weather, and landmarks to generate an AI image of the location that may or may not accurately reflect the photographer’s physical reality.
The camera has dials to adjust the parameters of the AI-generated image, similar to a film camera.
There is also a virtual version of the Paragraphica camera which users can try out with their smartphones.
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One picture shared by Karmann showed him standing in a leafy park with the Paragraphica camera. The prompt generated by the device captured his location and time of day in order to produce a similarly sun splashed picture of a tree-lined park with benches. However, the colour of the leaves above him was different and the shadows were darker.
Another snapshot generated an image of a crowd of people wearing the same shade of orange, even though this was not the case in reality.
Karmann said on Twitter that Paragraphica was a “passion art project” and not an attempt to replace cameras and photography.
“Rather it’s questioning the role of AI in a time of creative tension,” he tweeted on May 31.
Trying out the virtual camera via our phone, we shared our location information with Paragraphica. We next received a text prompt that named a nearby street and suggested a temple within the scene - even though we were indoors. Due to the long generation time, we could not see the resulting image.
Paragraphica warned that the camera may not work for all users, citing high traffic.
“The camera offers a way of experiencing the world around us, one that is not limited to visual perception alone. Through location data and AI image synthesis, “Paragraphica” provides deeper insight into the essence of a moment through the perspective of other intelligences,” said part of a message on the Paragraphica website.