Apple Aims to Prevent Blurry or Underexposed iPhone Photos with Automatic Image Buffering and Comparison

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Feb 14, 2013.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    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
  2. JaySoul macrumors 68020


    Jan 30, 2008
    Don't other smartphone cameras already do this?
  3. mouser45 macrumors member

    Jan 27, 2013
  4. basesloaded190 macrumors 68030


    Oct 16, 2007
    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.
  5. tonyshaker macrumors member

    Feb 6, 2012
    To Late?

    Is his not available in other recent smartphones eg samsung. :(

    Maybe I'm thinking of something else
  6. samcraig macrumors P6

    Jun 22, 2009
    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.
  7. jimbo1mcm macrumors 68000

    Mar 21, 2010
    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.
  8. basesloaded190 macrumors 68030


    Oct 16, 2007
    Ahh. Maybe I should read the whole article next time ;)
  9. samcraig macrumors P6

    Jun 22, 2009
    well you were not wrong. it just has the potential to do both.
  10. nmg196 macrumors newbie

    Jun 9, 2009
    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.
  11. needfx macrumors 68040


    Aug 10, 2010
    macrumors apparently
  12. sarge macrumors 6502a


    Jul 20, 2003
    Photo Utopia...where nothing is blurry, no one is ugly, and everything is beautifully lit.
  13. somethingelsefl macrumors 6502


    Dec 22, 2008
    Tampa, FL
    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 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)
  14. firestarter macrumors 603


    Dec 31, 2002
    Green and pleasant land
    Massive prior art on this... it's a fantastic example of how the US patent office truly sucks.

    Time for Apple to start innovating and stop rehashing other people's ideas...
  15. bushido Suspended


    Mar 26, 2008
  16. scott911 macrumors 6502a

    Aug 24, 2009
  17. phillipduran macrumors 65816


    Apr 30, 2008
    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.
  18. Tknull macrumors regular

    Jun 24, 2011
    San Diego
    This article is referencing a patent application from way back in 2009. It further states that elements of the application may have already found their way into the iPhone or applications available for the phone (and other phones). seems a little premature to start accusing aplple of rehashing old ideas.
  19. iSRS macrumors 6502


    Mar 2, 2010
    Woah! Awesome! Never knew about that!
  20. tekno macrumors 6502a

    Oct 15, 2011
    At least future photos of Apple prototypes will be less blurry.

    But I agree, my galaxy s3 already pretty much does this.
  21. ChrisCW11 macrumors 6502a

    Jul 21, 2011
    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.
  22. Yvan256 macrumors 601

    Jul 5, 2004
    Photos filled with #FFFFFF pixels meet all your requirements.
  23. Squilly macrumors 68020


    Nov 17, 2012
    When I had my GS3, it did this too. Nothing new.
    In other news....
  24. JaySoul macrumors 68020


    Jan 30, 2008
    Seriously never knew that! Cheers.
  25. charlituna macrumors G3


    Jun 11, 2008
    Los Angeles, CA
    Prior to 2009? Because it appears that that is when this invention was first filed. The 2012 application is just an adjusted version.

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