Two Columbia University scientists, Dr. Ko Nishino and Prof. Shree K. Nayar, have discovered how images reflected in the cornea of the human eye can provide the basis for technical advances in such varied areas as the analysis of historical photographs and the development of communications tools for paralyzed patients.
"Our curiosity about the appearance of human eyes motivated us to explore exactly what visual information is conveyed by an eye in a photograph," said Nayar, T.C. Chang Professor of Computer Science. "We hope that our research will facilitate progress in many diverse fields. For instance, using our methods, historians and journalists analyzing high-quality photographs may be able to discover new information about historically important figures through the reflections in their eyes. One can begin to explore where and when an image was taken and exactly what the person in the image is looking at."
A lay description of the ground-breaking work of Nishino and Nayar is available on a special website: http://www1.cs.columbia.edu/~kon/eyepress/eye.html. They outline their results and describe the broad applications of their findings.
Two papers linked to this site offer their scientific findings. The first, titled "The World in an Eye," was presented at the June 29-July 1 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition, held in Washington, D.C.; the second, titled "Eyes for Relighting," will be presented at the Aug. 8-12 ACM SIGGRAPH conference in Los Angeles.