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Computer scientists at MIT have found a way to tone down those annoying reflections that often appear when you take a picture through the window. They happen because some of the light bouncing off you also bounces off the glass, especially if it's double-paned. To reduce this effect, the researchers made a program that carefully inspects the image in tiny 8-by-8-pixel blocks. By comparing that to thousands of other blocks in other images, the program can reliably tell whether certain parts of the picture are reflections or not. Then the colors are tweaked to make the reflected parts of the picture less visible.

The original photo, left, and with reflection reduced, top right.MIT

The process worked well on nearly a hundred pictures with troublesome reflections the researchers downloaded from Flickr. In time it could be included in programs like Photoshop or even on smartphones, just like red-eye reduction and other photo editing tools. The technique will be demonstrated by the team at the Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition conference in Boston next month.

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—Devin Coldewey