Shows like CSI have long been the butt of many a joke for their incredibly unrealistic god-like computer software. Take a blurry reflection of a subject in someone’s contact lenses, press the magical enhance button, and boom - there’s your murderer. Lock ‘em up boys.
It seems far too good to be true, but a new piece of software developed by Google and MIT could soon make imaging fantasy a reality. The two tech giants have collaborated to create an algorithm which is able to completely eradicate reflections in photographs, letting you snap shots through windows without a care in the world.
The process can also isolate the reflections themselves, adding meat to their ghostly bones so to speak, providing some very impressive results in the process.
Chain-link fences aren’t safe either - the algorithm is clever enough to make them vanish completely, providing an uninterrupted view at the press of a button.
What is this new devilry?
The algorithm requires a short video to be taken, which pans across the subject slightly.
It then uses lots of clever tricks to determine the differences in the relative position of the foreground (reflections and fences) and the background, before separating them into two individual components.
The video above goes into far more detail if you want to get into the nitty gritty stuff, and we can’t wait for this tech to infiltrate our smartphones.
Sadly we’ll be waiting quite a while however, as currently photos are being processed by a beefy eight-core Intel Xeon CPU and 64GB of RAM.
A non-optimised implementation takes around 20 minutes, while a low-res photo being analysed by a Windows Phone prototype app takes two minutes.
Still, it’s a promising step in an exciting direction. Bring on the CSI smartphones.