Even though there are ways and means to remove annoying reflections in photos that have been taken through glass (e.g. with a polarisation filter), there is nothing wrong with having the possibility to get rid of them later on with a fully automatic image editing algorithm.
The software filter, which is being developed by a team of researchers at the MIT together with software developers at the search-engine giant Google, is supposed to be able to do exactly that. In addition, it should be able to remove distracting elements in the foreground of the picture, like fences, and isolate reflections from the rest of the photo. Especially the latter one looks like computer magic and evokes a little the amusing and unrealistic “Zoom and Enhance” scenes from CSI. 😉
© Tianfan Xue/Michael Rubinstein/Ce Liu/William Freeman/MIT/Google
Now you are probably asking yourselves, what’s the catch? Well, the algorithm is pretty much useless with a single photo, which is why it is not that useful for us photographers. In order to be able to do anything against reflections and distracting elements it needs a number of shots taken from slightly different angles. This is the reason it is much more suitable to generate photos from snippets of high resolution videos (4k) where more can be seen than on a conventional photo. The following video explains how the entire thing works.