Descriptive Camera Trades Pictures for Text

Bill Weir, David Miller, Justin Bare & Mark Monroy
This Could Be Big

The Descriptive Camera is a novel idea. It’s the kind of idea someone who’s looking for new ways to approach photography comes up with, when, as a society, we’re oversaturated with digital cameras, Facebook and Instagram.

Instead of revealing a picture, the camera prints a description of what’s in the image. And the description isn’t written by Watson or a carefully written algorithm, it’s actually crowd sourced. The camera hooks up to a wired internet line, and after you take the picture it’s sent to a webpage. There a “describer” views the image, types whatever he or she sees, and hits “submit.” A printer built into the camera then reveals the description. It can be literal or humorous; it can be a short 140 characters or the truly necessary 1,000 words.

The camera is homemade and built with off-the-shelf technology by Matt Richardson, a student and, fittingly, an editor at MAKE Magazine. The camera clearly didn’t roll off the Apple manufacturing line next to its sleek chrome and glass devices, but that’s part of what of what makes it interesting. It’s not a re-imagined smartphone or tablet; it’s something new and funky.

Does it have any practical applications at the moment? No. But it’s not as if Mr. Richardson doesn’t know that. He sees the Descriptive Camera as a first step and an opportunity to talk about photography in creative and new ways.