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Displays Graphics Software Technology

Pixel Inventor Goes Back To the Drawing Board 304

Posted by timothy
from the I-favor-little-triangles-myself dept.
lawpoop writes "Russell Kirsch, inventor of the square pixel, goes back to the drawing board. In the 1950s, he was part of a team that developed the square pixel. '"Squares was the logical thing to do," Kirsch says. "Of course, the logical thing was not the only possibility but we used squares. It was something very foolish that everyone in the world has been suffering from ever since.' Now retired and living in Portland, Oregon, Kirsch recently set out to make amends. Inspired by the mosaic builders of antiquity who constructed scenes of stunning detail with bits of tile, Kirsch has written a program that turns the chunky, clunky squares of a digital image into a smoother picture made of variably shaped pixels.'"
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Pixel Inventor Goes Back To the Drawing Board

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  • Re:Suffering ? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @02:22PM (#32830080) Journal

    Why are we suffering from it since so ?

    I did not read the article, so I don't know if it's answered there.

    It is now apparent that for a comparable amount of information stored, a more complex algorithm (with maybe even N passes required) could be employed to produce better results to the human eye [wired.com]. To me, this article seems to miss the beauty of keeping it simple and going with the square. I would also bet that all of his examples are done by starting out on a square based pixel image. How would one scan an image in one pass with his new suggested method? This might become a better standard but I would wager it would make a lot of things computationally more expensive and displaying the images more complex. Not to mention manipulation of the image gets a bit trickier and probably throws a monkey wrench in a lot of our widely implemented compression technologies that already produce this sort of "creative blocks" of multiple pixels.

    I'm not an expert in this field and I find his further research neat and mildly innovative but I would bet that when it comes down to weighing the practicality of implementation that squares remain.

  • by Volante3192 (953645) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @02:49PM (#32830476)

    Most of the great artists were mad.

  • by Locke2005 (849178) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @03:03PM (#32830700)
    The current problem is that on an LCD display, the Red, Green, and Blue pixels are adjacent to each other, not co-located. Coming up with a scheme to make all 3 colors appear to emanate from the exact same point would be a useful development.
  • Super-resolution (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Sulik (1849922) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @03:33PM (#32831162)
    Many image-enhancement techniques exist that do just this, and this is not really new. In fact this proves that square pixels work just fine to transmit the information, but the image can be enhanced to a larger resolution by non-linear techniques that work better than simple [traditional] upsampling.
  • by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @03:54PM (#32831568) Homepage

    Did you RTFA?

    In fact, I did.

    He took a higher resolution image and made two SMALLER images

    Actually, if I understand it, he made a higher resolution image by turning "the chunky, clunky squares of a digital image into a smoother picture made of variably shaped pixels", if I understand correctly, twice a many pixels.

    Kirsch’s method assesses a square-pixel picture with masks that are 6 by 6 pixels each and looks for the best way to divide this larger pixel cleanly into two areas of the greatest contrast

    I think, he has actually upscaled the images and used his technique to actually do the mythical CSI image enhancement.

    Kirsch has also used the program to clean up an MRI scan of his head. The program may find a home in the medical community, he says, where it’s standard to feed images such as X-rays into a computer.

    I don't get the impression at all that he's making smaller images. I get the impression that he's actually pulling detail out of the image with the jaggies, and getting a clearer image. The end result is actually more pixels, not less.

    However, that's just my best interpretation -- I'm entirely willing to concede that I'm wrong. I'm actually trying to figure it out. :-P

    It is entirely possible that he is ending up with the same number of variable pixels which gives more apparent detail, just with better alignment.

  • His algorithm (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MobyDisk (75490) * on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @04:24PM (#32832112) Homepage

    The algorithm he created looks a lot like HQX [wikipedia.org] which is used mostly to scale old video games. His algorithm seems generalized to work on high-color images while the HQX algorithms expect something closer to 16-color or 256-color images. HQX probably deals with dithering better.

    The whole thing about "square pixels" is just the media angle.

  • by camperdave (969942) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @04:29PM (#32832188) Journal
    I mean Wizard of Oz came out in the 1930s...

    True. And you'll notice that all of the parts of the story that were filmed on Earth are in black and white. It's only after Dorothy drops through the wormhole and they start filming the parallel world called the Land of Oz that the film shows color.

    Calvin's dad explained it all [multifamilyinvestor.com].
  • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by doublebackslash (702979) <doublebackslash@gmail.com> on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @04:41PM (#32832368)
    Actually, no, anti-aliasing leads to an image that more closely mimics the way we perceive the world (continuous analog signals, instead of digital samples). Here is a VERY good primer on Anti-Aliasing (with pictures!) http://www.povray.org/documentation/view/3.6.1/223/#s02_01_02_08_04 [povray.org]
    Now, that isn't exactly how it works in every system, but the basics are there and the best algorithms for the task are also presented. In case you didn't click, or don't care to read the whole thing here are the basics:
    • Oh no! The pixel next to me is WAY different! I'll bet that we missed something that goes between us!
    • *look in between the pixels*
    • Ah HA! I see that this is an edge of some sort, and human eyes would, if this were real, see this pixel as a mixture of colors
    • *combine the samples taken when looking around in an average mimicking what real life would show*

    So you see, it isn't blurring at all! It's taking more samples, and increasing the accuracy of the image relative to what is being sampled, where it is necessary.
    As I said, this isn't the algorithm that everything uses, some do it for every single pixel, but the end result is about the same except in extreme corner cases.

  • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Grishnakh (216268) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @05:06PM (#32832756)

    They'd probably be better overall than square pixels (as they'd be more uniform, whereas square pixels look great for straight vertical and horizontal lines, but look terrible for lines that don't match the layout of the pixels) after anti-aliasing.

    However, fabricating LCD panels with hexagonal pixels would probably be a pain.

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