Computer scientists at Duke University are developing new camera software aimed at giving people more privacy controls.

Activities like uploading pictures to Instagram and video chatting with friends creates mountains of visual data. But some of that data users might want to keep private: things like trade secrets on a screen in the background, or a pill bottle on a desk.

Ashwin Machanavajjhala. (Courtesy: Duke University)

Duke professor Ashwin Machanavajjhala and his team of researchers have come up with a system to protect sensitive information, with a little help from the camera's operator. 

"Users mark the objects they want to share, and then the software builds its own model," Machanavajjhala says. "Subsequently, when the camera is capturing video frames, the software detects this object and only shows that object to the application. And everything else that could potentially be sensitive is blocked out.”

The application is currently in the proof-of-concept phase, and Machanavajjhala says it will eventually be available for the private and public sectors. The software is designed to be compatible across all mobile & desktop platforms.

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