Kevin Karsch and his team at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are developing a software system that lets users easily insert objects into photographs, complete with convincing lighting and perspective:
We propose a method to realistically insert synthetic objects into existing photographs without requiring access to the scene or any additional scene measurements. With a single image and a small amount of annotation, our method creates a physical model of the scene that is suitable for realistically rendering synthetic objects with diffuse, specular, and even glowing materials while accounting for lighting interactions between the objects and the scene. We demonstrate in a user study that synthetic images produced by our method are confusable with real scenes, even for people who believe they are good at telling the difference.
(via Laughing Squid)