What Are You Looking At? This Autofocus Camera Knows

Today's cameras, with autofocusing lenses and programmed shutters, might seem about as automated as they can get. But Canon Inc. has developed a new approach to automatic focusing that overcomes a major annoyance: the need to point the camera at the person or object you want in sharpest focus.

Normally, autofocus cameras gauge the distance to whatever is smack in the center ef the viewfinder. So, if you want Aunt Emma off to the side, gazing out over the Grand Canyon, you must point the camera at her, lock the focus by holding the shutter button part way down, then shift the camera to the desired composition before snapping the picture.

To eliminate this shuffle, Canon's new A2E single-lens reflex model will determine where your eye is looking as you push the shutter button. The lens will then focus on that part of the scene. Inside the viewfinder, two infrared diodes bounce light off the photographer's eye. By measuring how the light is reflected, a photo-detector chip determines the position of the pupil and tells the camera where to focus. The camera will list for more than $800 when it debuts early next year.

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