This lensless camera might be the strangest AI tool yet

AI camera
(Image credit: Bjørn Karmann)

We've seen all sorts of weird and wonderful uses of AI over the last few months, from terrifyingly realistic deepfakes to expanded album covers. But this latest innovation might be the strangest (and possibly most impressive) yet.

We all know how a camera works, right? Basically, light enters the camera and hits either a frame of film or a digital sensor. But in the case of Paragraphica, a new AI powered 'camera', location data is the new light. (Need a palette cleanser? Check out the best cameras available now.) 

See more

Designed by Bjørn Karmann, Paragraphica features no lens at all. Instead, it "uses location data and artificial intelligence to visualize a "photo" of a specific place and moment. The camera exists both as a physical prototype and a virtual camera that you can try."

AI Camera

Rotating dials can adjust the text prompts (Image credit: Bjørn Karmann)

On the 'camera' itself, the viewfinder displays a real-time description of your current location, and by pressing the trigger, the camera will create a scintigraphic representation of the description. Meanwhile, three physical dials let you control the data and AI parameters to influence the appearance of the photo, similar to how a traditional camera is operated.

AI Camera

The workflow in action (Image credit: Bjørn Karmann)

So, there's barely any need for this thing to resemble a camera at all from a hardware perspective. But there's something fun, if not a little eerie, about the retro handheld design, although that bright red satellite in place of the lens couldn't be more sci-fi if it tried. Still, this week we've also seen a games console that looks like a chicken nugget, so anything is possible.

As you might expect, the responses online oscillate between 'this is amazing,' and 'why?'. It perhaps doesn't help that, in looking like a camera, Paragraphica seems to suggest it can replace one. But in subsequent tweets, Karmann shares, "this is a passion art project, with no intention of making a product or challenging photography. Rather it's questioning the role of AI in a time of creative tension."

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Daniel Piper
Senior News Editor

Daniel Piper is Creative Bloq’s Senior News Editor. As the brand’s Apple authority, he covers all things Mac, iPhone, iPad and the rest. He also reports on the worlds of design, branding and tech. Daniel joined Future in 2020 (an eventful year, to say the least) after working in copywriting and digital marketing with brands including ITV, NBC, Channel 4 and more. Outside of Future, Daniel is a global poetry slam champion and has performed at festivals including Latitude, Bestival and more. He is the author of Arbitrary and Unnecessary: The Selected Works of Daniel Piper (Selected by Daniel Piper).