Shree Nayar

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One World

Shree Nayar: The Art of Vision

The son of an engineer, it would seem no big surprise that Shree followed in his father’s footsteps but that wasn’t necessarily the plan. He never said I should become an engineer, he wasn’t pushing me in that direction, he explained to Deepak in a recent sit down. But whenever things were broken at home, my dad fixed everything and so I grew up in that setting. I was often his sidekick. While not an overt push into the engineering field, those hours spent with his father had a great influence on his career choices later in life.

Today, Shree holds dozens of patents pertaining to photography and imaging and has been furthering his study of the physics of vision at Columbia University. I raised the following question: can we develop new types of cameras that produce new forms of visual information that might actually enhance machine intelligence? It was out of this question that the Bigshot camera was born.

Bigshot was developed as a side project with the goal of giving the camera even more social appeal. It is a platform for what is called experiential learning, Shree noted as he introduced Deepak to the camera. The camera allows the user not only to learn how it works through construction but also then utilize its variety of different lenses to discover the different ways in which light and space interact and gain a little bit of insight into the study of vision.

Shree has not stopped his exploration. The fact that there aren’t answers to some of the most challenging questions in the field of vision is part of what drew him to it in the first place. One of the things I find fascinating about vision is that it’s not going to be solved in my lifetime and that’s what keeps it really exciting. His research is exciting for its possible uses in a variety of fields including machine intelligence and with products like the Bigshot camera; he has made his work accessible to everyone.

25:59 | 2014

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