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One of the most highly-publicized features of iOS 4.1, released last week, is the ability to take High Dynamic Range (HDR) photos, a feature which allows the iPhone 4's camera to capture a wider range of light intensity and produce higher-quality photos under certain conditions. Based on evidence we've compiled, we believe that Apple may have purchased a small Cambridge, UK-based company known as imsense for its expertise dealing with just this technology.

110728-imsense_logo_300.png


imsense, a spin-off from the University of East Anglia, has developed a technology known as "eye-fidelity" for producing nearly instantaneous Dynamic Range Correction in both standard and HDR photos using software algorithms to remap image tones in order to recover details lost in underexposed or overexposed regions of photos while maintaining color balance and generating final images as close to that perceived by the eye in reality as possible.

While the iPhone 4's camera does generate true HDR images by combining three separate exposures into a single image, technology like eye-fidelity can help the HDR process maintain a realistic appearance for the final photos.

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Apple promo image for iPhone 4's HDR capabilities

According to a note on the website of Braveheart Ventures, which backed imsense, the company was acquired by "an undisclosed trade buyer in July 2010". According to a press release from Braveheart, it received £342,000 for its minority stake in imsense, more than doubling its original £150,000 investment in two years.

Virtually all of imsense's web presence, including its website and Facebook and Twitter accounts, have been removed since its acquisition, although its flickr account remains active and shows several examples of how its eye-fidelity technology can draw out hidden features in images to create higher-quality photos. A video of a 2009 presentation by imsense CEO Philippe Dewost demonstrating the company's technology is also available.

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Example of imsense's eye-fidelity image enhancement: before (left) and after (right)

In addition, imsense's App Store application imphoto has been removed from the App Store. That application utilized the company's eye-fidelity technology to produce nearly-instantaneous exposure improvements to photos on the iPhone, offering processing of photos within the user's Camera Roll as well as the ability to shoot from within the application itself.

The company's imphoto application also extended to the desktop, where a PC version was joined by a Mac version on July 1st, just ahead of the company's acquisition. Both desktop applications appear to have been discontinued.

We also note that imsense Director of Engineering Alexis Gatt left the company in July 2010, just as it was being acquired, to become senior engineer at Apple. Together, the information suggests that imsense may have been acquired by Apple, although no definitive evidence has yet been uncovered.

Article Link: Did Apple Acquire Imsense Ltd for HDR Capabilities in iOS 4.1?
 

alent1234

macrumors 603
Jun 19, 2009
5,688
170
shocking, i thought apple's engineers know everything and just did it themselves

this is almost as shocking as Apple hiring away Palm engineers to work on iOS
 
Comment

nagromme

macrumors G5
May 2, 2002
12,546
1,196
I really like HDR, and it’s fast! I keep it enabled instead of the flash. Sometimes the HDR result is a little desaturated compared to the original, but you can choose later on which to keep.

I find this eliminates the most common frustrations I had with any camera, and is one more reason my “real” camera now gathers dust.

shocking, i thought apple's engineers know everything and just did it themselves

this is almost as shocking as Apple hiring away Palm engineers to work on iOS
You were misinformed: although almost every company hires and buys whatever it makes sense for them to hire and buy (it’s good business and makes for better products), Apple never does that. Apple engineers are born at Apple in vats and trained internally. No skills or services ever enter Apple from the outside.
 
Comment

BC2009

macrumors 68020
Jul 1, 2009
2,011
465
iPhone-4's 5MP camera with backlit sensor already outshines all the other mobile phones (even the ones with 8MP cameras). And the video quality was shown to even exceed that of many digital cameras. The big key here was probably the backlit sensor.

See the following reviews which look beyond the megapixel count:

- Macworld

- PC World

- Computerworld


Adding HDR to the camera for photography just makes it leaps and bounds better. Makes you think that the camera alone would make the iPhone-4 worth the purchase.

I'm still on my 3GS for now (trying to stick to my one new phone every two years rule), but I really envy the camera on my brother's iPhone-4.
 
Comment

SlamJam12

macrumors regular
Sep 1, 2010
220
0
Impressive

That feature, HDR, can do that in an iPhone camera? That is very nice difference between the first and second pictures that are posted. I was thinking of getting a new camera from Nikon or Canon for Christmas. I am wondering if I should wait for possibilities of the iPhone moving to a different carrier that is rumored for 2011.
 
Comment

AnodizedFish

macrumors member
Jul 19, 2010
31
0
Great!

Well, if Apple really did that, then they just made iPhone 4 even more impressive! Next up, iWork for iPhone!
 
Comment

RalfTheDog

macrumors 68000
Feb 23, 2010
1,600
478
Lagrange Point
HDR looks good, but I see the primary use for technical applications and security cameras. When I do art photography, I like to hide stuff in shadow. HDR brings out detail but it kills contrast.
 
Comment

garoto

macrumors member
Sep 13, 2010
88
110
iPhone-4's 5MP camera with backlit sensor already outshines all the other mobile phones (even the ones with 8MP cameras). And the video quality was shown to even exceed that of many digital cameras. The big key here was probably the backlit sensor.

See the following reviews which look beyond the megapixel count:

- Macworld

- PC World

- Computerworld


Adding HDR to the camera for photography just makes it leaps and bounds better. Makes you think that the camera alone would make the iPhone-4 worth the purchase.

I'm still on my 3GS for now (trying to stick to my one new phone every two years rule), but I really envy the camera on my brother's iPhone-4.

I would reset my 2-year rule to start from the iphone 4, then iphone 6 and so on... :)
 
Comment

jacollins

macrumors 6502a
Jun 19, 2010
531
0
If true, sounds like a good example of the way things should be done. Build a company with a good idea and a good product. Get acquired for boatloads of money (I assume it was boatloads) and have your product integrated into the acquiring company's product. Win win all around.

But then, you've got LaLa... :)
 
Comment

zero85ZEN

macrumors regular
Apr 8, 2009
119
0
Indianapolis
Adding HDR really was a significant improvement to the camera on the iPhone 4!

I've been really impressed with the quality of my photos since installing 4.1.

I think as a Point & Shoot camera the iPhone 4 with HDR enabled stacks up pretty well....

Of course I wouldn't trade it for one of my dSLRs....but it's a whole lot more convenient to carry my iPhone everywhere I go. My Canon 1Ds or 1D...not so much. ;)
 
Comment

Northgrove

macrumors 65816
Aug 3, 2010
1,140
425
I'm still on my 3GS for now (trying to stick to my one new phone every two years rule), but I really envy the camera on my brother's iPhone-4.
I tried out Pro HDR recently, and I think it's not too bad on HDR photography with the 3GS. :) It's important that you hold your iPhone as still as possible when photographing though, since this process makes it more sensitive for camera shake than otherwise.

Sample photos here:
http://www.eyeappsllc.com/Gallery.html
 
Comment

aristotle

macrumors 68000
Mar 13, 2007
1,768
5
Canada
HDR looks good, but I see the primary use for technical applications and security cameras. When I do art photography, I like to hide stuff in shadow. HDR brings out detail but it kills contrast.
That is all very interesting but irrelevant. If you are doing art photography I would assume that you would use DSLR camera instead of an iPhone.

Having said that, this HDR process the software is doing is not the same as the generic HDR that you most often see on flicker where amateurs just take three exposures and do a quick blend with an HDR tool and you end up with a cartoon-like appearance. This software automates the process a professional artist would do by manually tweaking the merging process of the three exposures to get the most realistic effect rather than the most dramatic.

This technology is great for a point and shot camera like the iPhone 4 has become.
 
Comment

justinfreid

macrumors 6502
Nov 24, 2009
499
20
NEW Jersey / USA
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Analog Kid said:
Would love to see this integrated into Aperture/iPhoto...

I was thinking the same thing- maybe in the rumoured iLife '11.
 
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tzeshan

macrumors regular
Dec 12, 2009
205
3
Isn't HDR how human eyes work?

When looking ours eyes focus on different objects. If the object is dark then the pupil widens.
 
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