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Old Feb 14, 2013, 10:37 AM   #1
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Apple Aims to Prevent Blurry or Underexposed iPhone Photos with Automatic Image Buffering and Comparison




A newly-published patent application from Apple discovered by AppleInsider describes methods that would allow an iPhone to buffer a series of photos before the user presses the shutter button for the device's camera and then automatically select the best one.

It is not uncommon for camera-shake or a less than optimal angle to result in blurry or dark photos in low-light conditions, even on the relatively capable camera on the iPhone. What the patent allows for is for the camera to start taking a series of photos before the user presses the shutter release, then automatically compare them with the one taken at the moment the button was pressed. If the system judges that one of the buffered photos is better, it stores that one in place of the one taken at shutter release.

In particular, the system seeks to minimize the camera shake that can accompany press the iPhone's volume button or tapping the screen to trigger the shutter by capturing images before the button or screen is even touched.

The algorithm described in the patent application uses a scoring system which measures contrast (the usual method used to judge focus), image resolution, dynamic range (the balance of light and dark tones in the image) and color rendering properties to determine which is the best version of the photo. The others are then discarded.

While the selection of the image is an automatic process, the system could allow the user to confirm the device's choice of the best available photo.

The patent application was filed in October of last year but references an earlier application filed in 2009, so it is possible that elements of this approach are used in current iPhones and iPads, although it is clear that the current Camera app for iOS does not include all aspects of the system.

Article Link: Apple Aims to Prevent Blurry or Underexposed iPhone Photos with Automatic Image Buffering and Comparison
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Old Feb 14, 2013, 10:39 AM   #2
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Don't other smartphone cameras already do this?
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Old Feb 14, 2013, 10:41 AM   #3
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Don't other smartphone cameras already do this?
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Old Feb 14, 2013, 10:56 AM   #4
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YouTube: video
I was just about to ask how this patent compares to the BlackBerry feature highlighted not long ago at their conference. It seems Apple's is more of a background process, while BB allows the user to decide.

(Also, it seems that the video reviewer doesn't know that you don't need to exit the camera app on the iPhone to 'QuickLook' photos. When a user is in the active camera app, just slide your finger in the middle of screen...as you would while flipping through photos...and you can instantly hop between the camera and the photos without having to press the thumbnail icon in the lower corner, it's a pretty neat shortcut)
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Old Feb 14, 2013, 11:10 AM   #5
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I was just about to ask how this patent compares to the BlackBerry feature highlighted not long ago at their conference. It seems Apple's is more of a background process, while BB allows the user to decide.

(Also, it seems that the video reviewer doesn't know that you don't need to exit the camera app on the iPhone to 'QuickLook' photos. When a user is in the active camera app, just slide your finger in the middle of screen...as you would while flipping through photos...and you can instantly hop between the camera and the photos without having to press the thumbnail icon in the lower corner, it's a pretty neat shortcut)
Woah! Awesome! Never knew about that!
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Old Feb 14, 2013, 11:13 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by somethingelsefl View Post
I was just about to ask how this patent compares to the BlackBerry feature highlighted not long ago at their conference. It seems Apple's is more of a background process, while BB allows the user to decide.

(Also, it seems that the video reviewer doesn't know that you don't need to exit the camera app on the iPhone to 'QuickLook' photos. When a user is in the active camera app, just slide your finger in the middle of screen...as you would while flipping through photos...and you can instantly hop between the camera and the photos without having to press the thumbnail icon in the lower corner, it's a pretty neat shortcut)
Seriously never knew that! Cheers.
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Old Feb 14, 2013, 11:55 AM   #7
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That's pretty slick.
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Old Feb 14, 2013, 10:42 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JaySoul View Post
Don't other smartphone cameras already do this?
I could be wrong but, what they do is just take a burst of multiple photos. The difference being other phones end up with 5 actual photos and maybe one of them is what you want where this patent is saying that the camera would take multiple photos and automatically chose the best one leaving you with only one actual photos versus say 5.
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Old Feb 14, 2013, 10:44 AM   #9
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I could be wrong but, what they do is just take a burst of multiple photos. The difference being other phones end up with 5 actual photos and maybe one of them is what you want where this patent is saying that the camera would take multiple photos and automatically chose the best one leaving you with only one actual photos versus say 5.
While the selection of the image is an automatic process, the system could allow the user to confirm the device's choice of the best available photo.
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Old Feb 14, 2013, 10:46 AM   #10
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While the selection of the image is an automatic process, the system could allow the user to confirm the device's choice of the best available photo.
Ahh. Maybe I should read the whole article next time
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Old Feb 14, 2013, 10:47 AM   #11
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Ahh. Maybe I should read the whole article next time
well you were not wrong. it just has the potential to do both.
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Old Feb 14, 2013, 10:49 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by JaySoul View Post
Don't other smartphone cameras already do this?
Yes, many other physical cameras and apps already do this. They take quick series of pictures either side of the shutter button press then attempt to work out which one is the best by analysing them for motion blur. The one with the least motion blur is then saved out. It's often mis-marketed as an "image stabiliser" function but effectively achieves the same thing most of the time.

Some cameras with face detection go further and attempt to discard photos where people are blinking. Chances are, it's taken 10 photos either side of the shutter press, that at least one will be crisp with nobody blinking. I'm not sure why Apple are now trying to patent this common technique - it's hardly new.
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Old Feb 14, 2013, 03:48 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by nmg196 View Post
Yes, many other physical cameras and apps already do this. They take quick series of pictures either side of the shutter button press then attempt to work out which one is the best by analysing them for motion blur. The one with the least motion blur is then saved out. It's often mis-marketed as an "image stabiliser" function but effectively achieves the same thing most of the time.

Some cameras with face detection go further and attempt to discard photos where people are blinking. Chances are, it's taken 10 photos either side of the shutter press, that at least one will be crisp with nobody blinking. I'm not sure why Apple are now trying to patent this common technique - it's hardly new.
Cameras that are any good don't bother to do this.

This is for crap cell phone cameras who can't afford to do better.

Real camera use one or more of the following:
1) raise the ISO to allow raising the shutter speed.
2) larger sensor size to allow raising the shutter speed.
3) voice coil in the lens mechanism to literally stabilize the lens.

Don't get me wrong, the patent is for a good idea, and it's filed back when nobody tried this at all on cell phone cameras. But if we're talking about taking good pictures with little blur, we shouldn't have been using cell phones in the first place.
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Old Feb 14, 2013, 04:05 PM   #14
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Cameras that are any good don't bother to do this.

This is for crap cell phone cameras who can't afford to do better.

Real camera use one or more of the following:
1) raise the ISO to allow raising the shutter speed.
2) larger sensor size to allow raising the shutter speed.
3) voice coil in the lens mechanism to literally stabilize the lens.

Don't get me wrong, the patent is for a good idea, and it's filed back when nobody tried this at all on cell phone cameras. But if we're talking about taking good pictures with little blur, we shouldn't have been using cell phones in the first place.
Except if it was a Nokia N8 or a 808 Pureview. N8, launched in 2010, brought to a smartphone nearly the same quality of 2008 premium compact cameras, like the Panasonic LX3. The 808 Pureview was a step further, bringing a new zoom concept, allowing excellent quality at a wide focal distance and a decent quality at tele "virtual focal distance" pairing with most 2012 compact cameras at the same focal distance.

In truth, iPhones, Galaxies and Lumias would do better incorporating bigger sensors like the 1/1.83" one from the N8. N8 phone thickness is practically the same of recent smartphones, so there's no excuse to incorporating better sensors other than increasing profit margins.
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Old Feb 14, 2013, 12:23 PM   #15
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Don't other smartphone cameras already do this?
It's a patent application from 2009. So if the patent is granted, and some smartphone camera has done exactly what the patent says three years ago, they'll need a patent license.
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Old Feb 14, 2013, 06:30 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by JaySoul View Post
Don't other smartphone cameras already do this?
Microsoft "Blink" is already on the market and the description reads almost exactly the same
http://nokiapoweruser.com/2013/02/04...ideo-tutorial/

Quote:
"With BLINK for Windows Phone 8, you’ll never miss the best shot. BLINK captures a burst of images beginning even before you press the shutter and continuing beyond. No problem if you push the shutter a few moments too early or too late. With BLINK, a simple finger swipe lets you find the perfect shot. You can even return to BLINK to find a second and third shot from a single capture. Advanced image stabilization technology from Microsoft Research removes camera shake and lets you focus on the important parts of the scene."
Or there's also the more featureful smartshoot which I think has some more similarities with Blackberry's offering:
http://conversations.nokia.com/2012/...and-lumia-820/
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Old Feb 14, 2013, 10:42 AM   #17
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To Late?

Is his not available in other recent smartphones eg samsung.

Maybe I'm thinking of something else
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Old Feb 14, 2013, 10:44 AM   #18
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Thought I had something like this when I had my Galaxy 3. It would select the best photo from a shot, but would take multiple shots, then select it and ask for your approval.
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Old Feb 14, 2013, 10:59 AM   #19
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i like this on my friends galaxy s3
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Old Feb 14, 2013, 11:00 AM   #20
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Nice! I really hate when you get your picture composed and then your action of taking the picture messes it up with blurry camera shake. A thin small phone isn't the easiest thing to keep steady.
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Old Feb 14, 2013, 11:10 AM   #21
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At least future photos of Apple prototypes will be less blurry.

But I agree, my galaxy s3 already pretty much does this.
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Old Feb 14, 2013, 11:10 AM   #22
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This is why other companies fail

Apple consistently does the 1-up patent applications as soon as a competitor offers a similar innovation.

For instance, Microsoft came out with the "smart" cover that includes a touch pad and keyboard, Apple 1-up's Microsoft by filing a patent for a swiss-army knife smart cover that does every conceivable thing you could think of, except typing.

BlackBerry offers a camera which buffers frames before and after a shot and then uses the "best" frame when picking facial expressions. Apple then decides to 1-up them by filing a patent that buffers frames and composes them into the best shot.

You see, Microsoft and BlackBerry are stupid. They had innovations that set them apart from Apple, but without any forward thinking they revealed their competitive advantage and allowed Apple to walk in and patent every conceivable alternative use of the innovation you can think of.


If you are the CEO of a company that is NOT Apple, wake up and realize Apple will patent alternatives to your features and eventually edge you out of the market. I may not like Apple's strategy to patent everything in the world, but I can't respect other companies for being obtuse and only having such as narrow field of vision as to only care about the one feature that sets them apart from Apple.

So, yes, Apple is basically piggy-backing off of an innovation BlackBerry brought the world (and I am sure a slew of other companies), but then BlackBerry et al. was stupid for not thinking of all the possible ways that buffering frames before a shot could offer them and protecting their competitive advantage.

Point goes to Apple on this one.
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Old Feb 14, 2013, 11:12 AM   #23
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When I had my GS3, it did this too. Nothing new.
In other news....
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Old Feb 14, 2013, 11:43 AM   #24
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When I had my GS3, it did this too. Nothing new.
In other news....
The patent application was filed in October of last year but references an earlier application filed in 2009
Galaxy S3 existed in 2009?
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Old Feb 14, 2013, 11:57 AM   #25
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I think I'd be wary of such a feature. I take pictures all the time of my kids, friends, dog, etc. Getting everyone to look at the camera at the same time or with eyes open is a real pain. I'm not sure I want an algorithm choosing to keep the best photo at the expense of what I mentioned above. EVEN WITH the ability to accept or reject, if I'm shooting a bunch of photos all at once (say at my kids sporting events) I may not have time to review and choose the one I want to keep. I'm not sure there's a great way to get around these issues other than perhaps to have an 'on-off' toggle or to have the ability to always to photos in this mode and then be able to decide at a later time which one to keep.
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