A camera, at its most basic, is made up of two things: a sensitive medium to capture light, and some hole to selectively allow the light to hit whatever is going to be capturing it. Artist Sascha Pohflepp is trying to turn that on its head. Her project Buttons has no optics of any sort, and from the outside, simply looks like an acrylic box with a button on it. It does collect images, though.
Buttons is powered by a Sony Ericsson K750i phone running custom software that records the exact time when the Buttons’ single button is pressed, and transmits that data to a server. That server begins searching Flickr for the photos taken at the time the button was pressed, while Buttons continues to query the server for an image.
Eventually (perhaps after several hours) the server finds an image, and passes it along to Buttons, which displays it to the user. It’s not a snapshot of the place you were, or even what you were looking at, but what someone else took a picture of at the same time.
Check out the video to see how it works (it isn't YouTube, so we couldn't embed it here, alas).
As someone who publishes some of his photos on Flickr, I find Buttons to be fascinating, but it seems more like a curiosity to me. Let me know what you think of it in the comments.
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This story, "Buttons 'Camera' Captures an Image--Just not Yours" was originally published by PCWorld.