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First came the smart phone. Next comes the smart camera phone.

Thanks to researchers at Stanford University , your smart phone's camera might eventually have a plethora of its own apps that are more advanced than even the iPhone's limited inventory of camera apps.

"Camera manufacturers used to ignore phones because they could say the image quality was too poor to worry about," Paul Worthington, an analyst from Future Image, told MIT's Technology Review . "Today it is smart cameras versus dumb cameras."

The Stanford researchers have created computational photography software for the Nokia N900 phone that gives users added control of the camera and makes apps possible, according to Technology Review. For instance, some of the apps they've created open up new possibilities for photography, like being able to automatically stitch together panoramic images or capture both light and dark areas of an image, by using different exposures for different parts of a scee.

The software was presented this week at the SIGGRAPH computer graphics conference.

"If other people in the mobile space start to experiment with these ideas, and users find that useful or cool, we will see similar apps in the biggest mobile app stores," said Marc Levoy, one of the Stanford researchers who shared the software at the conference. "That will put pressure on the camera industry to open up to allow similar innovation using their platforms."

The researchers also unveiled their "Frankencamera," an experimental "computational camera," they built from scratch, according to TechnologyReview. The Frankencamera surpasses the limitations on current cellphones, but might be an ideal benchmark for camera phones in the future. The prototype runs Linux, is fully programable, connects to the Internet, accommodates SLR lenses and is built from off-the-shelf parts.

"It's also ugly - hence the name," the developers wrote on Stanford's Web site .

The developers publicly released the source code for the Nokia N900 camera phone on July 21.

Photo by Stanford University .

Edited by WASDted: n/a

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