Menu
MIT uses algorithm to banish window reflections in pics

MIT uses algorithm to banish window reflections in pics

The software can automatically remove reflections when photographing through windows

Researchers at MIT have developed an algorithm that can automatically separate window reflections from a digital image (left) and remove them (top right).

Researchers at MIT have developed an algorithm that can automatically separate window reflections from a digital image (left) and remove them (top right).

You've got the perfect shot of a cityscape from your hotel room -- if it weren't for those pesky reflections in the window.

Photographers are often stymied by their own reflection or that of their camera when shooting through glass, but researchers at MIT and Google Research have developed a method to remove them automatically.

The technique finds glass reflections in photos by using the fact that they're usually made up of two reflections, one slightly offset from the other.

The two reflections can be caused by double panes in windows or even a single, thick pane, resulting in a double or "ghosted" reflection. Since the second reflection is a set distance from the first, the researchers used an algorithm to distinguish the reflections from all the other data in the image.

The algorithm, using a technique developed by MIT's Daniel Zoran and Yair Weiss of Hebrew University of Jerusalem, separates images into 8-by-8-pixel squares. It uses statistics related to the pixels to first detect the separation between the two reflections and then remove the reflections.

The algorithm was trained using tens of thousands of images in databases, and the researchers say it can work in most situations.

Sample images distributed by MIT and in the researchers' paper on the topic showed a variety of results.

In one, the original image shows a fire-escape staircase shot through a window, with the photographer's reflection clearly visible. After processing with the algorithm, the reflection is nearly all gone from the photo, but faint traces of the person's face are visible in the wall by the fire escape.

With refinements, such image-processing software could be useful in smartphones and digital cameras. It could also help machines that use computer vision, such as robots and self-driving cars, make sense of environments where reflections are present.

"The work has potential in improving degraded pictures due to window reflection, like when window shopping," graduate student YiChang Shih from MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory said via email.

Shih said he wants to make the algorithm's ability to detect reflections more robust, but he wouldn't say if or when the research could be commercialized.

The research is to be presented at the Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition conference in Boston in June.

Tim Hornyak covers Japan and emerging technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Tim on Twitter at @robotopia.


Follow Us

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Googleconsumer electronicsdigital camerasMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyGoogle research

Featured

Slideshows

Leading female front runners of the Kiwi ICT industry honoured at 2019 WIICTA

Leading female front runners of the Kiwi ICT industry honoured at 2019 WIICTA

Reseller News has honoured the leading female front runners of the New Zealand ICT industry at the 2019 Women in ICT Awards (WIICTA) in Auckland. The awards recognised standout individuals across six categories, spanning Entrepreneur, Rising Star, Shining Star, Community, Technical and Achievement. Photos by Gino Demeer.

Leading female front runners of the Kiwi ICT industry honoured at 2019 WIICTA
Reseller News kicks off awards season in 2019 with Judges' Lunch

Reseller News kicks off awards season in 2019 with Judges' Lunch

The 2019 Reseller News Innovation Awards has kicked off with the Judges Lunch in Auckland with 70 judges in the voting panel. The awards will reflect the changing dynamics of the channel, recognising excellence across customer value and innovation - spanning start-ups, partners, distributors and vendors. Photos by Christine Wong.

Reseller News kicks off awards season in 2019 with Judges' Lunch
Reseller News welcomes industry figures for 2019 Hall of Fame lunch

Reseller News welcomes industry figures for 2019 Hall of Fame lunch

Reseller News welcomed 2018 inductees - Chris Simpson, Kendra Ross and Phill Patton - to the third running of the Reseller News Hall of Fame lunch, held at the French Cafe in Auckland. The inductees discussed the changing landscape of the technology industry in New Zealand, while outlining ways to attract a new breed of players to the ecosystem. Photos by Gino Demeer.

Reseller News welcomes industry figures for 2019 Hall of Fame lunch
Show Comments