back to article Descriptive Camera develops text instead of images

A camera for the blind sounds almost as pointless as a comb for baldies or a pedal-powered wheelchair, yet with the Descriptive Camera - a snapper that chronicles an image in text - the possibility seems less absurd. New York University graduate Matt Richardson had a flash of genius and decided a picture should indeed tell a …


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  1. Studley

    3-6mins = not great for taking on safari


    It is a Bengal tiger. It is

    looking at you and is running

    towards you with its jaws

    wide open.


  2. Ketlan

    Why not just print out in braille or braille AND standard text? And no offence, but how would a blind person know where to point the camera unless a person was the subject of the picture and thus could indicate where to point and shoot, in which case, as voice files can be attached to pictures (at least on my Fuji HS20EXR) they could add an appropriate commentary anyway.

    1. Suburban Inmate

      Good points mate.

      I think with regards to targeting, audiable cues might be there in some rare circumstances. As for braille, that would take thicker paper the the graphene-thin thermal stuff that it seems to be using, plus much more power to physically form the dots. I remember years ago seeing on TV a bloke who had devised a way to print braille on a bog standard dot matrix. It involved a soft backing sheet, decent gsm paper, and 6x passes of the print head.

      Still I suppose every cool tech starts out crap. And many stay that way. *coughC5cough*

  3. Dave 126 Silver badge

    The printed text doesn't look too easy to read...

    perhaps this would be better implemented in a smartphone with text-to-speech?

    (I am aware that there are degrees and variety of what we consider 'blind'... some people have vision that appears 'fractured', with some small areas perfectly visible... ie some registered blind people could read this camera's print-out. )

  4. Winkypop Silver badge

    Oh dear

    What's to stop abuse?

    Are the image description multi-sourced?

    You could really mess with people.

    Just sayin....

  5. Spiracle

    Missing a trick

    Couldn't have just given one prototype to Damien Hirst, bunged it in White Cube and split the proceeds?

  6. boombelly

    Open to abuse

    "The designer did throw in the option of sending the picture to available online friends for a free description instead, though."


    This is a picture of...wait, what is that? It looks kind

    of like a shrivelled frankfurter sausage and two

    scotch eggs covered in hair?....oh, no wait, it can't be

    ... oh sweet lord! Gross, Dave, seriously gross


    1. Crisp

      Is that normal?

      What? Taking a double Polaroid of it and showing it to your mates? No!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "this would need to be vocalised somehow"

    Anyone else thinking of the Tommorrows World sketch on Not the Nine O'Clock news and the device to let deaf people know when their telephone is ringing!

    1. Martin an gof Silver badge

      "Anyone else thinking of the Tommorrows World sketch on Not the Nine O'Clock news and the device to let deaf people know when their telephone is ringing!"

      Not wanting to bring a downer on what was (mostly) an excellent programme, but deaf people do (or did, in the days before they all got SMS and email and instant messaging) use telephones. For one-to-one conversations there is the textphone (basically a modem with a keyboard and a small display) which can be used directly to another textphone user or via BT's typetalk service. For other things a lot of deaf users used fax machines.

      Either of those works a lot better if you know when there's an incoming call :-)



      1. some vaguely opinionated bloke

        "deaf people do... use telephones. For one-to-one conversations there is the textphone... or via BT's typetalk service"

        To be a little pedantic the NTNON sketch used an analogue dial-faced telephone. Whether this was plain irony or they couldn't get hold of a textphone at the time, I'll leave you to decide 8-)

  8. Richard Parkin pointless as a ... pedal-powered wheelchair


  9. TrickyRicky

    What do you want to do now?

    You are standing in an open field west of a white house, with a boarded front door.

    There is a small mailbox here.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What do you want to do now?


      1. Crisp

        Re: What do you want to do now?

        It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a grue.

        Either that or take the lens cap off.

  10. Martin Lyne

    "Mechanical Turk".

    So it sends him the picture and he types the response?

    1. TheProf Silver badge

      Exactly what I was thinking. Why not just ask a passerby to describe the scene for you?

  11. Andrew James

    If a blind person doesnt know what the objects being described look like, what use is telling them about it going to do?

    "oh great, there's a giraffe over there eating green leaves from a tree, and there's a stunning orange sun setting in the background....

    "ok now i have questions. What is green? What is orange? What does a giraffe look like? and finally is the tree large, small, old, young?"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      On the other hand, you could also have:

      "You are looking into a refrigerator. Inside on the top shelf there is a Bud Light on the left, a Pabst in the middle, and a Heineken on the right. On the shelf below there is a two liter bottle of Mountain Dew. Non-diet."

      1. Andrew James

        LOL @ Nothing in the fridge except for similarly shaped bottles

  12. Rodrigo Valenzuela

    What I really liked...

    about this camera (or whatever this is) are the status lights .

    I suppose they will work as well as a pedal powered wheelchair


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