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Appeared on: Thursday, May 26, 2005
Sensor prevents shut-eye in digital snaps

Masahide Kaneko and colleagues at the University of Electro-Communications, on the outskirts of Tokyo, Japan, developed the system, which can even eliminate blinking from group photographs, they say.

Digital cameras can cause people to inadvertently blink at the vital moment by emitting several pre-photo flashes. These are meant to prevent red eye by making the subject's irises contract, but they can also dazzle the target and make them to shut their eyes when the picture is captured.

The system developed by Kaneko's team gets around the problem by snapping 15 frames in 0.5 seconds after the shutter button is clicked. A computer then rapidly analyses these image, discarding those in which the subject is blinking, leaving photographer with a better final snap.

The Japanese researchers say the system can even detect closed eyes within photos of up to 30 people and can automatically pick out an image featuring the least blinkers. They hope to sell the idea to camera manufacturers and believe a commercial version could be ready within two years.

Thompson says it would be a logical step, given that high-end digital cameras already come with on-board image-processing software and fairly powerful microprocessors.


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