How to remove objects from live video in milliseconds

Remember when seeing used to be believing? That time when photos never lied? When you could rely on an image to present the truth — in court, in the news or even with your friend’s vacation photos? Yeah, me neither.

The first photo manipulation happened in the early 1860s to a photo of Abraham Lincoln. Abe’s head was pasted onto the body of the 7th President of the United States (and Christopher Lloyd/Dr. Emmett Brown look-alike), John C. Calhoun. In fact, that photo served as the basis for the original Lincoln five-dollar bill.

Then along came more advanced tools like Adobe Photoshop that made it easy for just about any hack to doctor a photo. But thank goodness for video — especially live video. Praise the last holdout. You can’t doctor video easily — especially not live video. Until now.

The kids over at Germany’s Technische Universität Ilmenau have created a simple-to-use tool to remove objects from live video. You just draw a circle around the object you want removed with a stylus. There is no programming. No complex frame-by-frame edits. I’m not sure if this is frightening or super cool. But at least we can be reasonably sure this new superpower will only be used for good. (Right?)

You may have heard of augmented reality. That’s the process of altering live video to add elements, such as New York’s Twin Towers. Well, this is augmented reality’s evil twin. It’s called Diminished Reality and it takes only a fraction of a second to complete. Watch the video below.


  1. Gob Bluth's Awkward Segway
    October 21, 2010

    GAHHHHHHH I am freaking out.

  2. Rosie
    November 9, 2010

    And I thought the house-window-infiltrating drones were cool. Bah.