Crowdfunding Sought for 'Ghost-Detecting' Computer Program
A man who believes he has developed a scientific way to detect ghosts and other paranormal entities in everyday photos and videos has launched a crowdfunding program to raise money for further development.
According to a press release by ghost hunter Joe DiMare,
“Many people believe in ghosts, but not many people have evidence to support their belief. Now with Hidden Intelligence Tracking (HIT), anyone can shoot a 30-second video and submit it to have minor changes in light and motion amplified to reveal evidence of the paranormal. The creator of HIT has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise $49,999 by August 5 to expand computer capabilities so that more videos can be processed quicker. Taking a whole new approach to ghost chasing, HIT works like a microscope for video, revealing minute changes in motion and light. Users can take a 1080-pixel video with an iPhone, an Android device, or a digital camera and submit the video for processing via Google Drive or the HIT app. The amplified video will then be emailed back to the user.”
That “amplified video” is guaranteed to contain a ghost, according to DiMare’s “Ghost Guarantee: We promise to find a ghost on your video if you follow our instruction video.”
The HIT program according to DiMare “redefines the paranormal in our everyday lives” and is “perfect not only for paranormal enthusiasts, but also videographers, private detectives, students, educators, and anyone interested in seeing a greater truth. HIT utilizes the same techniques that astronomers use to discover new planets, but the rendering process for one short video requires an entire computer’s capabilities for several days. The crowdfunding campaign will help create a rendering cluster so that multiple videos can be rendered.”
I contacted DiMare seeking a better understanding of his technology and specifically what he believed the connection is between video flickers and ghosts: “Does the technology have a way to distinguish between ordinary changes in light and motion in a video (for example, a flickering light source, or someone walking in front of a light) from paranormal changes?”
DiMare responded, “Ghosts are made of light…. I think they can take any form they want. This technology detects motion. The ghosts are vibrating and will make an imprint on the video. Amplifying the movement lets us see it better,” though he acknowledged that the program “does not know the difference between a candle or a person walking by. It just amplifies the changes that happen from one frame of video to the next. The user has to look at the amplified video he or she takes and determine if something paranormal is present.” (It’s not clear how the user should determine what is paranormal and what isn’t.)
In other words the program simply amplifies both signal and noise in the video, which in turn amplifies existing video artifacts and creates new ones. DiMare’s “ghost-hunting” technology is essentially putting back in the very noise and image distortions that the camera technology has worked to correct and filter out of the image in the first place. When closely examined, some of those video glitches and anomalies may resemble human or other figures, by random chance.
On his crowdfunding site DiMare gives an example of a seemingly ordinary video frame that’s been enhanced with his computer technology to reveal what he describes as “a frog standing waving back at the camera. He is standing in front of and under the tree. About 2 feet tall, he looks like he has a bow tie on, and he is waving with his left arm.”
I asked him to clarify whether he was claiming that his photo actually revealed a two-foot tall, bowtie-wearing frog waving at him. “The frog is what I see in the footage,” he responded. “Some people say they see an owl. Two frames before this shot and the two frames after, there is nothing standing in front of the tree…. this phenomenon is quick, that is why it is invisible to most people. Viewing the footage frame by frame and amplifying the changes makes all the difference. I’m not sure if it is real or an illusion.”
Ghost Photos, Videos, and Audios
The answer to this phenomenon lies in psychology, not the paranormal. While it may seem bizarre, the process by which DiMare is “finding” ghosts and anomalies is actually very common in ghost-hunting circles.
There are several ways that ghost hunters collect EVP samples; often it simply involves setting up a voice recorder in an empty room and leaving, returning hours later. Other times investigators will have handheld recorders as they walk through a supposedly haunted area.
The ghost hunters later carefully review the audio files, turning the volume up high and increasing the contrast so that even faint background noises are made more noticeable. Many of the sounds are indistinct at best and may require repeated listenings or extensive computer filtering to discern any faint words. If the person hears anything that he or she thinks might be strange, that will often be interpreted as a ghost voice.
For psychologists there is no mystery about what causes EVPs and ghostly images in videos, and it has nothing to do with ghost voices. Our brains naturally look for meanings and patterns in the world around us; we are very good at finding patterns — so good in fact that we sometimes recognize patterns that do not exist.
One common example of this is when people see faces in random shapes like clouds. The faces are not really there, of course, but our brains unconsciously seek out dots that could look like eyes, an opening that could look like a mouth, and even sometimes noses and ears on a face. It’s a completely normal process, but it can create the illusion of ghost and other forms (in photos and in videos) and ghost voices (in audio).
The ghosts and other “weird” images captured on video and made visible by this process look exactly like ordinary camera artifacts. The most likely explanation for these apparently “paranormal” images is an optical and technological one, not a paranormal or supernatural one. Even if you have a “Ghost Guarantee.”