Carrie Fisher’s roast of George Lucas embodies the very best of her

Today, the world lost a brilliant actress, sharp wit, talented writer, champion for mental health, and cultural icon. Carrie Fisher was a legend, and if you need a reminder of why, look no further than her roasting Star Wars creator George Lucas.

In 2005, The American Film Institute awarded the Life Achievement Award to Lucas. But it was Fisher’s speech that night that stole the show. In just over four minutes, Fisher flays Lucas as equally as she honors him. She’s fearless in sharing her story, while also taking playful shots at herself, and the franchise and the industry that made her famous.

“Hi, I’m Mrs. Han Solo and I’m an alcoholic,” Fisher begins. “I’m an alcoholic because George Lucas ruined my life.” She goes on to call Lucas a sadist, but adds that “like any abused child wearing a metal bikini, chained to a giant slug about to die, I keep coming back for more.”

Fisher praises Lucas while also good heartedly calling out his bullshit, and with it, the sexism of Hollywood. She points to “Queen Amadillo, or whatever her name is” in the prequel series, who changed hairstyles and outfits “practically every time she walks through a door.”

“I bet she even got to wear a bra, even though you told me I couldn’t, because there was no underwear in space!” Fisher shouts, referencing a story told in her autobiography Wishful Drinking.

“I’m only slightly bitter because you, my formerly silent friend, are an extraordinary talent, and let’s face it, an artist,” Fisher concludes, “the like of which is seen perhaps once in a generation. Who helps define that generation, and who deserves every award I now spend the latter half of my Leia-laden life helping to hurl your way.”

Carrie Fisher is gone, but pieces of her life and legacy are scattered across film, television, and the web. They remind us of the very best of her: an unshakeable woman whose bold, crass humor and wit only highlighted her strength in an industry that didn’t deserve her.

Gigabyte’s new compact gaming PC continues the trend of weird-looking computers

Gigabyte’s Brix brand has been around for a while, and now the company is launching another member of the Brix series, the BRIX-GZ1DTi7. And with the strange green mesh, oval cross section, and glowing LED lights, it’s another gaming PC that has me wondering why we can’t simply make powerful computers that don’t look embarrassing to own.

As reports, the new compact desktop actually has some serious firepower. The GZ1DTi7 offers a sixth-generation Intel Core i7 processor, either an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 or GTX 1080 GPU, 16GB of RAM, and both a 240GB M.2 SSD as well as a 1TB HDD for storage. Meanwhile, the unique design is partly explained by the cooling mechanism, which draws air from the bottom of the PC and vents it out the top. But it’s still baffling to me that all high-end desktop gaming PCs seem to be stuck in a Mountain Dew-fueledfever dream.

Aesthetics aside, it sounds like a good computer in a decently small form factor. No price or release date for either SKU has been announced, but with a product page already up on Gigabyte’s Chinese site, it likely won’t be too long before we get that information.

Carrie Fisher’s most important work? Speaking out on mental illness

Carrie Fisher, who died at age 60 following a heart attack, was known to many fans as the bun-haired Princess Leia and little else. But the actress had a career that spanned a variety of media, from movies to TV shows, from books to plays. Fisher touched lives through her work in Star Wars and other major projects, but it was what she did off-screen that really established her as one of our most cherished icons.

Fisher struggled with mental illness for much of her life, something she was outspoken about at a time when depression, anxiety and other diseases were heavily stigmatized. It took Fisher years to be diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and even longer for her to accept it, as she told ABC’s Diane Sawyer in 2000.

“I thought they told me I was manic depressive to make me feel better about being a drug addict,” she said, one of her first times speaking publicly about living with the disorder. “It’s what you think. If you could just control yourself … You had an indulged childhood … You were a child of privilege … I don’t know, that’s what I thought. You’re just a drug addict.”

Fisher’s struggles with addiction were public knowledge in the 1980s, and a stint in rehab marked a turning point for her in myriad ways. She wrote a novel about the experience, Postcards from the Edge, her first of several books; and she began to come to terms with living with a disease not yet well understood by the masses.

“There is treatment and a variety of medications that can alleviate your symptoms if you are manic depressive or depressive,” Fisher told USA Today two years later, after receiving an honor from the Erasing the Stigma Leadership awards for “speaking the truth about mental illness.” “You can lead a normal life, whatever that is.”

What made Fisher such an influential advocate for mental health awareness wasn’t just her willingness to speak on the subject, however. It was how she talked about her manic depression that set her apart: with a sardonic, darkly comic tone that made her battles sound normal, not tragic.

Wishful Drinking, her 2008 memoir about the highs and lows of her days as a Hollywood starlet, is the best example of how Fisher became one of the most outspoken and crucial celebrity voices in the discussion around mental health:

So having waited my entire life to get an award for something, anything (okay fine, not acting, but what about a tiny little award for writing? Nope), I now get awards all the time for being mentally ill. I’m apparently very good at it and am honored for it regularly. Probably one of the reasons I’m such a shoo-in is that there’s no swimsuit portion of the competition. Hey, look, it’s better than being bad at being mentally ill, right? How tragic would it be to be runner-up for Bipolar Woman of the Year?

Even in her efforts to make light of her diagnosis, however, Fisher was upfront about the hard work involved in going about daily life with bipolar disorder. After experiencing a manic episode while performing on a cruise ship in 2013, she spoke to People about the experience, and how her relationship to mental illness was more tenuous than she made it seem.

“Over the years, writing about [having bipolar disorder] did help me to be able to talk about my illness in the abstract, to make light of it,” she said, still recovering from the incident at the time. “That’s my way of surviving, to abstract it into something that’s funny and not dangerous. But what happened was I lost the serious relationship with it. It is not an entertainment. I’m not going to stop writing about it, but I have to understand it.”

Fisher’s public commitment to understanding the uphill battle with her mental health was inspiring to those who faced similar issues and had not yet found the confidence to speak up about them. With an estimated 43.6 million adults suffering from mental illness in the U.S. — and millions more Star Wars fans — that one of film’s most memorable stars had no regrets about sharing her struggles with the world is, by far, one of her most enduring legacies.

Correction: Fisher’s first novel was titled Postcards from the Edge. We’ve corrected the story above to reflect this.

A reading list for remembering Carrie Fisher, the writer

Though Carrie Fisher will be most widely remembered for her iconic role as Star Wars’ Princess Leia, her career spanned five decades and half a dozen disciplines — she was a voice actor, screenwriter, live theatre performer, memoirist, novelist, and a fervent activist who spoke openly about her own struggles with mental health and addiction.

So watch her movies this week (including all the classics she quietly rewrote and improved), but read the things she published, too. Here’s a list to get you started:

Postcards from the Edge (1987): Fisher’s first novel tells the semi-autobiographical story of a film actress working her way through rehabilitation for drug addiction by writing in a journal and sending postcards to her loved ones. Its absurdist humor was mostly well received, and it came to define Fisher’s writing style. She later adapted the book into a screenplay, which became a critically acclaimed film starring Meryl Streep and Shirley MacLaine. (It’s currently streaming on Amazon, iTunes, and a lot of other rent-online services.) Fisher’s 2004 novel The Best Awful There Is is considered an unofficial sequel.

Surrender the Pink (1990): A crassly titled romance novel, Surrender the Pink is about a soap opera screenwriter who falls in and out of love with an imperfect man, and finds it difficult to separate showbiz from reality.

Delusions of Grandma (1993): Another semi-autobiographical novel, this one is about a screenwriter named Cora who develops a paranoid fear of dying in childbirth. The novel is made up of Cora’s letters to her unborn child, which tell her life story.

These Old Broads (2001): Fisher wrote the screenplay for this TV movie, which starred Shirley MacLaine, Joan Collins, Reynolds, and Taylor, in her final role before her 2011 death. Fisher also did uncredited work on the screenplays for The Blues Brothers, Sister Act, The Wedding Singer, many of the Star Wars films, and over a dozen others.

Wishful Drinking (2008): Fisher’s first memoir was based on her one-woman Off-Broadway show of the same name. The book deals with Fisher’s famous family: her mother, Singin’ In The Rain actress / singer Debbie Reynolds; her father, singer Eddie Fisher, and their divorce after Eddie Fisher left Reynolds to pursue an affair with Elizabeth Taylor. It also covers Fisher’s mental illness, addiction, and the absurdities of Hollywood — including a fantastic anecdote in which George Lucas tries to convince Fisher that no one wears bras in space. (Which is factually inaccurate, as well as a gross thing to insist on.)

please honor carrie fisher’s wishes and include in her obituaries that she “drowned in moonlight, strangled by her own bra.” ❤️❤️❤️

— elisabeth (@threelisabeth) December 27, 2016

An HBO documentary about the production of Wishful Drinking is also available to stream.

Shockaholic (2011): Fisher’s second memoir breaks down into a few long sections. One returns to her mental illness: She details with candid, self-effacing humor how electroshock therapy helped her with depression, but left her memory full of holes. (She cites that as the reason for writing another memoir — so she’d have a record of the things in her life she was bound to forget.) Other segments deal with her friendship with Michael Jackson — she saw herself as one of the few people iconic enough to relate to him comfortably — and her relationship with her father, whom she reconnected with late in life, and took care of until his death. Fisher tends to fall back on punny, irreverent humor as a defense against vulnerability, but she shows plenty of that vulnerability here as well.

The Princess Diarist(2016): Fisher’s last memoir was released in November 2016, and incorporates the diaries she kept while working on Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. In the book, she confirms a long-rumored on-set affair with her co-star Harrison Ford — to the great thrill of gossip-magazine editors (and fan fiction writers) everywhere. Though there wasn’t much else for scandal-seekers, the book is notable for showing a 60-year-old icon looking back at a 19-year-old’s naïve behavior, and how it affected the rest of her life. She was touring to support the book when she died.

In spite of a 30-year writing career, so many bestsellers, and so many lauded scripts, Fisher will always be remembered primarily for playing Princess Leia in the original Star Wars trilogy. That speaks to the popularity of the Star Wars franchise, and to the power film has to create iconic images and memorable heroes. But Fisher’s writing offered the real insight, by letting people look past the icon to the person. By becoming an outspoken symbol of depression and addiction, by treating her issues with humor and frankness, by being irreverent about fame and the character that made her famous, she revealed herself as approachable, relatable, and human. For those who only knew the cinematic image, it’s well worth taking the peek she offered behind the camera, and into a tragic but well-spent life.

Rogue One animators on that character: ‘Realism had to trump likeness’


Rogue One, the recently released Star Wars prequel, has tons of ties to the original films in the form of returning characters. Some, such as Mon Mothma or General Dodonn, were simply replaced by lookalikes. Others — like the brief cameos from Bail Organa or C-3P0 — simply featured the original actors, or in the case of Red and Gold Leaders, used archival footage cut from A New Hope. But the digital appearances in the film by Peter Cushing’s Grand Moff Tarken and Carrie Fisher’s young Princess Leia through CGI re-creations have been a point of contention for fans in the discussion surrounding the film since its release.

In an interview with The New York Times, several of the lead producers and animators for Rogue One spoke about their reasoning for why they felt the digital re-creation needed to be in the movie along with some details as to how the effect was actually accomplished.

  Industrial Light & Magic/Lucasfilm, The New York Times

According to Industrial Light & Magic chief creative officer John Knoll, the process of resurrecting Tarkin requires the use of actor Guy Henry as a replacement. Henry performed an imitation of Cushing’s distinctive performance for the film in full motion-capture headgear, which then allowed for his head to be digitally replaced with that of Cushing in what Knoll describes as “a super high-tech and labor-intensive version of doing makeup.” If the CGI didn’t turn out well, there were contingencies: the production team would have had Tarkin appear as a hologram.

Ultimately, it was never a question of if Tarkin would appear, but how. As Rogue One co-producer Kiri Hart commented to The New York Times, “If he’s not in the movie, we’re going to have to explain why he’s not in the movie.”

It’s interesting to note that the Star Wars franchise had previously resurrected Tarkin in Revenge of the Sith. There, however, the role was simply played by actor Wayne Pygram, who bears a resemblance to Cushing. But it seems that with the demands of a much larger speaking role that the filmmakers envisioned for the character in Rogue One, the decision was made to attempt to digitally re-create the genuine article in Cushing than rely on a lookalike.

Rogue One also isn’t the first time that a new Star Wars film has managed to bring back actors from the dead — 2015’s The Force Awakens featured a brief dialogue snippet from Sir Alec Guinness’s Obi-Wan Kenobi during Rey’s vision scene taken from the earlier films.

Hal Hickel, an Industrial Light & Magic animator, commented that small details in the Cushing’s original appearance in A New Hope had strong impacts on the overall realism of the digital doppelgänger. Things like using the lighting from A New Hope (which differed from that in Rogue One) “improved his likeness as Tarkin, but it worsened the sense of him being real because then he didn’t look like any of the actors in the scene.” But the animators held to a main goal that “realism had to trump likeness.”

Knoll claims that Lucasfilm won’t be making a habit of using the digital effects heavily in future films, describing the process as being “extremely labor-intensive and expensive,” and that the decision was made solely for story purposes. But it’s clear that the genie is very much out of the bottle, and assuming that the company can continue to get rights to reuse past actors’ licenses from their estates it seems that there’s little stopping Lucasfilm from continuing to bring back characters digital in future installments.

The silly way The Force Awakens almost began

Will Minority Report cybergloves ever make sense?

Senso is an experimental glove peripheral that tracks individual fingers for virtual reality hand controls, while offering haptic feedback that includes vibration and temperature fluctuation. If you want the technical details, you should check out Road to VR’s solid and appropriately skeptical rundown, because we’re not really here to talk about Senso. We’re here to talk about our eternal, unrequited, and misplaced love for the VR glove.

At first glance, gloves seem like a simple, obvious Controller Of The Future: they’re a semi-ordinary piece of clothing that can simultaneously track natural finger motion (unlike a handheld controller) and provide tactile feedback (unlike Kinect-style cameras.) That’s why there are a billion different versions of them. You’ve got the famous Nintendo Power Glove and its high-end inspiration, VR pioneer Tom Zimmerman’s VPL DataGlove. Road to VR names a half-dozen recent examples besides Senso, and that’s still not a comprehensive list. And then there are all the fictional iterations — perhaps most famously, Tom Cruise’s stylish three-finger gloves in Minority Report.

Yet despite all this effort, motion-tracking gloves aren’t part of any modern consumer virtual or augmented reality system. Because like an ostentatious mustache, cybergloves only work if you get them exactly right — and until that point, they’re just silly-looking and unpleasant. Why? Let me explain.

‘Fits like a glove’ is just an idiom

Gloves are only one-size-fits-all if they’re small but super-stretchy, and VR gear often needs to pack in a lotof electronics. This means that development kits — which is what most cybergloves are — tend to run large. If you’re not a big person, their much-vaunted freedom of movement gets hampered by the wads of fabric around your fingers, while air gaps dull haptic feedback.

Comfort isn’t the biggest issue for specialized industrial tools, and obviously a prototype will be rough. But most companies — including ones that intend to sell mass-market consumer products — seem barely interested in the difficulties of building intimate hardware for diverse bodies. If that’s the case, why make a controller that’s hugely dependent on meeting that challenge?

Hardware isn’t a silver bullet

Compared to cameras that track bare hands, gloves can take some of the guesswork out of finding your real-life finger position. Unfortunately, a computer still has to interpret whether those fingers are spread quite enough to mean you want to grab something in VR, or whether some offhand motion matches a gesture you recorded earlier. A physics system has to make sure objects don’t bounce off your fingers or stick to them like glue. Companies like Leap Motion have put a ton of work into software design, and it’s still imperfect. Not every hardware startup will get that far — or even have the time and expertise to try.

In fact, this is by far the biggest advantage Rift- or Vive-style controllers have over any kind of gesture interface: it’s really, really easy to tell when somebody has pulled a trigger.

Haptics are hard

VR doesn’t need to be lifelike to be fun. But if a device is touting full, immersive haptics, vibrations and heating elements aren’t enough. I want to grab virtual objects and actually feel my hand close around them, which is only possible if something physically stops my fingers.

The obvious solution is force-feedback hand exoskeletons, which are a real thing and look terrifying. But this is a perfect example of how VR gloves only seem like a viable product if a whole constellation of features — gesture recognition, haptics, comfort — comes together perfectly. It’s the only way to compensate for the fact that, well, gloves honestly aren’t much fun to wear.

Gloves are basically gross and uncomfortable

You know what your hands touch? Everything. And you know what they’re coated in? Oil and sweat. So any covering for them will be constantly picking up dirt both inside and out. Add the annoyance of an even slightly ill-fitting design, the inconvenience of having to either wear or carry a pair everywhere, and the misery they’ll cause in the heat of summer, and computing gloves had better offer something extra-special.

One of Senso’s big selling points is that unlike a Kinect or similar device, you don’t need an external camera. But cameras aren’t much of a problem if you can build really good ones straight into VR or AR headsets — which Microsoft, Leap Motion, and others are already trying. Gloves arguably still have some advantages, but again, it’s not enough for something to be slightly better if it’s significantly less convenient.

What else could we build?

I still love the idea of a natural-feeling VR control system with tactile feedback, however it’s done. Motion control jewelry offers some of the same advantages as gloves without covering your whole hand. Haptics don’t necessarily require skin contact at all. Gest was an ill-fated but clever example of what the future could look like, and although I had a lot of difficulties when I once tried out the Myo armband, I wore it a lot longer than I would have used a pair of gloves.

Maybe someone will find a sleek, self-cleaning, ultra-flexible electronic skin that makes me like gloves. In the short term, products like Senso are a fun proof of concept, but camera-based hand tracking and handheld controllers are still the two gold standards of VR. For gloves to have any place in the future of computing, they’ll have to beat both of these technologies while being legitimately wearable — and so far, that’s an elusive combination.

Oculus engineer arrested for allegedly soliciting underage girl in sting operation

Longtime Oculus engineer Dov Katz was arrested last week after allegedly soliciting sex from a police officer he thought was a 15-year-old girl. Washington news outlet KING 5 reported on Friday that Katz responded to an online ad posted as part of a sting operation by an undercover detective, who claimed to be 15 years old.

According to charging documents published by GeekWire, Katz and the officer agreed to meet at a hotel in Tukwila, Washington. Katz showed up on the evening of December 21st and was arrested at the hotel carrying $600 in cash. He allegedly told police that he had come to “rescue” the fictitious girl, although the documents quote explicit text messages arranging a sexual encounter.

Katz currently describes himself on LinkedIn as head of computer vision and machine learning at Oculus, where he’s listed as having worked since March of 2013 — a very early point in the virtual reality company’s history, before its $2 billion buyout by Facebook in 2014. An Israeli citizen working in California, he was profiled by The Times of Israel for his work shortly after the acquisition. According to KING 5, he will be arraigned for communicating with a minor for immoral purposes on January 5th, 2017.

While Katz isn’t a high-profile Oculus employee, computer vision has a wide range of applications in virtual reality, including tracking the motion of headsets like the Oculus Rift. Katz’s LinkedIn page states that he helped develop the Rift’s head tracking system, and the company is currently experimenting with more advanced “inside-out” tracking that would abolish external cameras, although it’s unknown exactly what Katz was doing at the time of his arrest. Oculus did not immediately reply to questions about whether Katz remains employed.

Double Dragon IV is coming January 30th, 2017

Game developer Arc System Works bought the rights to Double Dragon series in 2015, and today the company announced that Double Dragon IV is happening. Better yet, the new game will be released on January 30th, 2017 — in time to honor the 30th anniversary of the original game. Double Dragon IV will be available on PlayStation 4 and Steam.

While it might be hard to work up excitement for a different company’s take on the classic side-scrolling beat ‘em up, there is reason to hold out hope: some of the game’s original developers (like the director, character designer, composer, and programmer) are working on the project, according to Arc System Works. Details are scant right now, though it appears the company will roll out more details in the weeks to come on the official website. It will be the first properly numbered Double Dragon sequel since 1990.

Checking in on some 2010 Twitter predictions about 2016

Bad things have happened around the globe forever, but many people are saying that 2016 was especially bad. Where did we go wrong? I decided to look back at some Twitter predictions from 2010 — a Goldilocks year of sorts where there weren’t too many tweets to sift through, but enough to produce some wonderful guesses.

FLASHFORWARD IS CANCELLED. Dec. 12, 2016 will forever be a mystery.

— Carl (@drmcmuffin) May 14, 2010

FlashForward was a short-lived television show that aired on ABC. It was one of many shows that ABC and other major networks greenlit in hopes of finding the next LOST. Spoiler alert: none of them really ever found the next LOST. (HBO might have with Westworld, for better or worse.) To solve Carl’s mystery: December 12th was Ding-a-Ling day, and Donald Trump gave some bad people more power.

@aplusk Well my first bill as president 2016 will be the 30 hour work week that would include a 3 day weekend, more jobs and time to spend $

— Kevin Harmala (@KHarmala) April 12, 2010

In 2010 Kevin promised Ashton Kutcher that in 2016, as president, he’d roll out a slimmer 30 hour work week with a longer weekend for Americans. Kevin did not win the 2016 election but judging who did and how, this platform would have been enough to get him some votes!

.@owillis 2016 will be #millertime?

— Amit Mistry (@amitmistry) February 22, 2010

I’m willing to guess 2016 drove lots of people to drinking so, yes.

Will new #SpaceTweeps be interested without human #space launches here in America for 6+ years? 2011-2016 will be like 1976-1981 again.

— SpaceFlight 360° (@SpaceFlight360) February 20, 2010

People were very interested in space launches over the last six years, especially when we sent a car-sized robot to the surface of Mars and used rockets, a sky crane, and a giant parachute to land it. And 2016 was a particularly fantastic year for space exploration. Yay space!

desperate to get to 319 followers by the 23rd October 2016. will somebody please help me?

— uoʇɹou (@ericbratislava) July 7, 2010

As of writing this, Eric here has 1,999 followers. Congrats Eric!

the 2nd avenue subway aint gonna b ready until 2016…… will the world even still be here by then? shit.

— L0VE, LAUREN ♥ (@LadiiLaur) July 9, 2010

Lauren was right. The Second Avenue Subway, a NYC public works project with a very long and tortured history, is opening on January 1st, 2017. As for the rest of the world…

“We really idolize him. He does so many good things for the people. He should run for president,” 2016 will be wild

— Kahlil A. de Pio (@supersluggish) November 19, 2010

At first glance I thought I found viral gold with this tweet. Instead, Kahlil was tweeting about boxer Manny Pacquiao. Pacquiao was actually elected as a Senator, not President, of the Philippines this year. Pacquiao has also said some terrible things about the LGBT community, which you can find in section 12.4 of his Wikipedia page, listed below other sections like “Acting Career,” and “Basketball.”

2016 will be Superbowl L, which looks a little plain but L = 50. #fb

— Ab Morrison-Hayward (@abmoha) February 10, 2010

Swing and a miss. Super Bowl 50 happened this year, but the No Fun League (did I do that right SB Nation?) ditched the Roman numerals this year in favor of regular old numbers. I guess the league was happier being Spartan.

Today was a perfect day to watch Blade Runner – Director’s Cut. Surprise… 2016 will not be as futuristic as it seemed back in the 80’s.

— Ros Knopov (@rosknopov) February 7, 2010

2016 was definitely not as futuristic as people in the 1980s thought it would be, so Ros made nothing but correct calls in this tweet.

Prediction: the GOP nominee for prez in 2016 will not come out for repealing obamacare

— Josh Eidelson (@josheidelson) December 26, 2009

Cheating a bit with the date here but: Oops.

This startup wants to use AI to edit and pick your photos for you

You’d think the proliferation of smartphone photography would have sparked a revolution in digital cameras. Not so much. Sure, cameras are more connected now than ever, and mirrorless technology has helped make them smaller and lighter. But the basics — shoot as much as you want to a memory card and access the photos when and wherever — have remained. So new ideas are welcome, however bizarre they might be.

Enter Relonch, a startup that wants to upend the way we use digital cameras. Relonch’s take on photography is a subscription model where you pay $99 a month for cloud services and the camera.

The camera, which Relonch showed off to a few outlets last week, is wrapped in leather. The only parts that are exposed are the viewfinder, the shutter button, the power button, and the lens. You can’t change the settings, and you can’t even review the photos you take save for a quick flash inside the viewfinder.

It gets weirder. From there, the camera beams the photos over LTE to Relonch’s cloud service, where artificial intelligence picks the best shots and edits them for you. You get those final photos back the next day. Photographers who own cameras might scoff at the idea, but the idea could appeal to people who want a camera that’s capable of more than the one on their smartphone.

That approach is purposely antithetical to the instant gratification we’re now used to. It’s also not far off from the way things were a little more than a decade ago, where your shooting was limited to the amount of frames in a roll of film and you had to wait an hour, a day, or maybe a few days until you got the printed pictures back.

While that process was a bit arduous and expensive, there was a magic to it. The rush of rifling through a batch of your photos for the first time, and the accompanying disappointment when they didn’t turn out how you hoped, is something that’s almost totally disappeared from modern photography. Relonch is trying to usher in a sort of return to this more methodical way of taking pictures.


What really interests me about Relonch is how they plan to employ artificial intelligence. It’s an idea that’s starting to bubble up in a few different corners of the photography world. Our phones are already capable of helping us find the best frames in a pile of similar photos — iPhones do this natively in the camera roll, as does the Google Photos app.

Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus also uses AI, or what the company refers to as a “machine learning-enhanced image signal processor,” to simulate the background blur in portrait mode, among other things. Google took a computational approach to photography with its new Pixel phones, leveraging the onboard intelligence to improve things like low light performance. We’re sure to see more AI-assisted photography in the coming years, so in that sense Relonch is a camera company that’s ahead of the curve.

There’s also plenty reason to be skeptical that Relonch will pull this off, and not just because the core idea is likely to press people’s patience. Relonch doesn’t plan to roll any of this out until 2018, and as CNET points out, Relonch’s first idea was an iPhone camera attachment that they never shipped.

But when you consider how the biggest camera companies are just focused on optimizing the current approach to digital photography, as opposed to upending it, ideas like the one from Relonch are inspiring. If photography is staring down another revolution, the spark is apparently going to come from the startups and the smartphone companies.