We all think we have an original eye when it comes to taking photos ... until we upload our shots onto Instagram and a quick geotag search yields hundreds of identical pictures. Thankfully, designer Philipp Schmitt now has a camera that would like to help undo your inclination toward the generic.
A "speculative design" (ie, not available for mass retail...yet), the Camera Restricta consists of a smartphone contained in a 3D-printed body. Every time a user wants to take a photo, the device locates itself using GPS and cross-references Flickr and Panoramio for photos that have been geotagged within a 35 x 35 meter radius; if too many images are indeed identified as having been taken in the vicinity, the body's shutter is retracted and the viewfinder blocker.
Good luck trying to get that shot of the Eiffel Tower with this thing in tow. Think of it as a gentle slap on the hand from your favorite art professor, followed by a micro lesson in creativity: "Be. More. Original."
The technicalities of the disabling function don't actually sound that complex, and we could see it readily implemented on any DSLR today:
"The phone runs a web app that queries a Node.js server I built to query Flickr and Panoramio for the number of pictures nearby. It's open source. According to that number, the app synthesizes the camera sound in real-time using the Web Audio API. If the number is above a certain threshold, a photo cell mounted in front of the screen picks up a signal and transmits it to the microcontroller which then retracts the shutter," Schmitt details on his website.
If the idea of an autonomous camera sounds obnoxious, just think of all the likes your shot of that surprisingly picturesque water tower will be getting.
Michelle No is an editorial assistant at Supercompressor. She experiences 13 seconds of validation for every Instagram like she gets. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.
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