In October, the R.A.D. as Hell corner featured Filipino researchers wielding a GoPro on a stick to snap coral reef photos cheaply and easily. Turns out that kind of marine science – mapping an underwater area with photos and then computer-analyzing the images – is a pretty common kind of marine science (and becoming more common as it gets cheaper and easier, see: GoPro on a stick). However, the pervasive, blue-green tint of underwater photos can be a major hurdle to research as it makes it difficult – for human or machine – to distinguish what’s pictured.
Well that didn’t sit well with engineer and oceanographer Derya Akkaynak . She spent four years developing an algorithm to color-correct underwater photographs to effectively erase the water. Pixel by pixel. It’s absolutely wild to see the difference this technology makes in the above video (or this article). There is one caveat. The program, cleverly called Sea-thru, needs to know the distance from camera to subject in order to properly calculate the correction. Luckily, this is no issue for scientists who are already gathering this information anyway; not so for tourists and recreational divers.
Lots of R.A.D. advances in underwater imaging, lately, my friends. Each one makes it that much easier to study and protect our priceless seascapes!