Computational photography, as we have talked about it before, is a coming together of the camera and the computer to do more than the camera can do by itself. Things like HDR, increasing depth of field and much more are possible. To advance this work the Stanford University research group that has been pushing computational photography for some years has produced a camera that will make it easier for researchers to work in this field, as part of their Camera 2.0 project.
The so-called Frankencamera exposes all of its functions to software experimentation, totally. This is far more than is possible with other solutions, like the CHDK for many Canon camera models, which only expose some functions. The Frankencamera allows researchers to control the camera operation at very fine levels and affect all aspects of the camera operation.
This development is exactly what this field needs and something I asked for in a post on the HP pro photography blog last year, though I hoped a camera manufacturer would realize the potential that an iPhone-like software development environment would offer. Imagine being able to download apps for your 5D Mark II or D300.