Clear Cam by Occipital Review
(Alternate Title: Barcode History in the Making)
Price: $1.99 | Link to App Store | Tested on iPhone 3G
Clear Cam enhances your iPhone's existing camera: eliminates blur, reduce noise and take sharper, clearer photos with 2x resolution (up to 11MP).
When something new hits the market (for instance, the first accurate barcode scanner for phones), we as consumers, view it as something new and shiny- like a newborn baby. In truth, by the time it reaches us, it is practically middle-aged. At conception, technology is an idea. That idea is nurtured, coddled and disciplined by many sleep-deprived developers, before it is ready to go into the world on its own- often in an iteration that even surprises the very minds which gave it life.
Ideas are not formed in vacuums, nor are they cast in stone. Faulkner said, “Kill your darlings.” This painful process of straying from what seems a singular purpose is often what leads to the next big thing. The greatest minds are those that proceed, eyes wide open, down the path of discovery, constantly re-evaluating the terrain and standing firm on the faith of their core competency.
Clear Cam's relationship to RedLaser may seem to be merely that of older sibling, but in truth, the birth of Redlaser was predicated by Clear Cam. The guys at Occipital didn't set out to put barcode scanners in the hands of the masses, nor did they hatch an elaborate plan to enhance the iPhone's camera. They set out with a passion for Augmented Reality, a core competency in computer vision and a firm belief in its intrinsic value.
Clear Cam represents Occipital's first successful monetization of computer vision. The app uses computer vision to capture high resolution photos with the iPhone's camera. It has two modes, Quick Mode and Enhanced Mode.
In Quick Mode, it takes 4 shots in succession then chooses the best one. Enhanced Mode takes 6 shots in succession then allow you to align them, essentially merging them into one high res image. The results are stunning. As the mother of a small child who never sits still, I've missed too many photo opps due to the iPhone camera's need for zen-like stillness. Finding this app drastically improved my quality of life- or at least the quality of my memories of it.
The reason that barcode scanning didn't emerge contemporaneously with the smartphone, was the inability of the phone's camera to overcome blur. After Clear Cam launched and Occipital felt some relief from monetary strain, a new idea emerged. One day Occipital's Jeff Powers picked up a copy of Scientific American, noticed the barcode and BAM: The birth of RedLaser, the first accurate barcode scanning app. Accurate because it uses computer vision to compensate for blur.
Not only is Clear Cam significant in its own right, it is contextually significant. Interconnectedness like this permeates our everyday experience, but often goes unnoticed. Next time you download an app from the App Store, take a minute to reflect on the fact that it has emerged from one context to be delivered uniquely into yours.