What Google Glass means for the future of photography


Marc Levoy

(Stanford University)

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Date: 10/15/2013


Although head-mounted cameras (and displays) are not new, Google Glass has the potential to make these devices commonplace. This has implications for the practice, art, and uses of photography. So what’s different about doing photography with Glass? First, Glass doesn’t work like a conventional camera; it’s hands-free, point-of-view, always available, and instantly trigger able. Second, Glass facilitates different uses than a conventional camera: recording documents, making visual todo lists, logging your life, and swapping eyes with other Glass users. Third, Glass will be an open platform, unlike most cameras. This is not easy, because Glass is a heterogeneous computing platform, with multiple processors having different performance, efficiency, and programmability. The challenge is to invent software abstractions that allow control over the camera as well as access to these specialized processors. Finally, devices like Glass that are head-mounted and perform computational photography in real time have the potential to give wearers “superhero vision”, like seeing in the dark, or magnifying subtle motion or changes. If such devices can also perform computer vision in real time and are connected to the cloud, then they can do face recognition, live language translation, and information recall. The hard part is not imagining these capabilities, but deciding which ones are feasible, useful, and socially acceptable.

Further Information:

Marc Levoy is the VMware Founders Professor of Computer Science at Stanford University, with a joint appointment in the Department of Electrical Engineering. He received a Bachelor’s and Master’s in Architecture from Cornell University in 1976 and 1978, and a PhD in Computer Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1989.

Created: Wednesday, October 16th, 2013