With artificial intelligence (AI) making its presence felt across various industries, a Danish engineer has used the AI tool to create an incredible new invention – a camera without a lens. Yes, you read it right!
Bjørn Karmann, an Amsterdam-based senior experience and interaction designer, has developed a specialized AI camera prototype called “Paragraphica” to take photos without a lens.
Instead, the camera uses the location data of the photographer to create an AI-generated picture of the scene.
“Paragraphica is a context-to-image camera that uses location data and artificial intelligence to visualize a “photo” of a specific place and moment,” reads the official website of the Paragraphica project.
The camera comes as a physical prototype and a virtual one you can try.
What Is Paragraphica?
As per the official website, the camera works by collecting data from its location using open APIs (application programming interfaces), which use information such as the address, weather, time of day, and nearby places.
Based on the combination of all these data points, Paragraphica composes a paragraph describing the current place and moment. Later, using a text-to-image AI, the camera converts the paragraph into a “photo.”
Interestingly, the resulting “photo” is not just a snapshot but “a complex and nuanced reflection of the location you are at,” adds the website. In other words, the image is perhaps how the AI model “sees” that place.
According to the developer, the photos capture some reminiscent moods and emotions from the place, albeit uncanny, as they are not precisely similar to those one would click from a mirrorless camera or phone.
How Does The Camera Work?
Like the traditional camera, the three physical dials on the camera allow you to control the data and AI parameters to influence the appearance of the photo. For example, the first dial can adjust the radius of the search, while the second one produces a noise seed for the AI image diffusion process. The third one controls the guidance scale.
From there, the viewfinder displays a real-time description of your current location. When you press the trigger, the camera produces a scintigraphic image of the description.
The Paragraphica website has posted photographs taken by Karmann at different locations using the AI camera, including information about the location, the current weather, and nearby places.
For instance, one of the photos uploaded on the website cites, “A midday photo taken at Cliffordstraat, Amsterdam. The weather is partly cloud and 18 degrees. The date is Wednesday, 24 May, 2023. Near by there is parking and yoga studio.” These details are put through the AI, which generates a photograph of the area.
Karmann has also uploaded photographs clicked with Paragraphica on Twitter to demonstrate how the AI camera works.
Introducing – Paragraphica! ??
A camera that takes photos using location data. It describes the place you are at and then converts it into an AI-generated “photo”.
— Bjørn Karmann (@BjoernKarmann) May 30, 2023
“As AI language models are increasingly becoming conscious, we too will have limited imagination of how they will see the world,” explains Karmann on why he made the camera without a lens.
“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.”
After posting the AI camera prototype on Twitter, many asked Karmann if the device would be up for sale, to which he replied,
“There are a lot of questions in the threads, so I like to clarify that this is a passion art project, with no intention of making a product or challenging photography. Rather, it’s questioning the role of AI in a time of creative tension.”
While the device may not be up for sale, you can see how the camera works by trying out a virtual camera featured on the project’s website.