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Computer Science

Computer Coaches for Shutter Bugs

UNIVERSITY PARK, Penn. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- We work on them, play on them, and use them for just about everything. Now, computer scientists at Penn State University say they have designed a first-of-its kind computer with personality -- one that can coach shutter bugs, helping them take better pictures.

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Computer scientist James Wang, of Penn State University in University Park, has developed an online rating system that teaches computers some human characteristics by programming them to acknowledge beauty. Wang 's system is called Acquine, or the aesthetic quality inference engine. The computer compares uploaded digital images against thousands of pictures rated by people using online photo-sharing websites.

Acquine analyzes color distribution, texture, and composition -- features that are pleasing to the human eye. The computer gives the picture a rating from zero to 100.

"We actually compared with manual features and we found that about 80 percent of the time the computer is consistent with what the people picked," Wang told Ivanhoe. Computer and information scientist

Heidi Berkley is an amateur photographer who takes hundreds of pictures every month.

"I always want to know how to make it better -- make the lighting better -- without taking a class," Berkley said.

Scientists say the Acquine system will eventually provide feedback to help photographers improve their skills.

Wang says visual stimulus is just one part of human emotion and a small step towards making machines more like people.

The Acquine system was made public last year. More than 170,000 visitors have uploaded and rated their photos. Wang says future systems will likely capture other emotions, like excitement or fear, by using the same technique.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.-USA contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.

Click here to Go Inside This Science or contact:

James Z. Wang
College of Information Sciences and Technology
The Pennsylvania State University
(814) 865-7889

Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.
Pender McCarter


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