Thanks to the march of technology, cameras are getting better and better. But it’s not just the hardware that is improving: so too is the software. We’ve gone from a time when there was nothing you could do about the dreaded “red eye” to a point now where it can be edited out with the click of a button. Some cameras are so advanced that they’ll do it for you.
Here, we’re going to take a little dip into the future and have a look at what technologies are coming down the pipe from companies like Apple. Here’s what to expect.
Apple wowed us when it came out with the world’s first true 3MP selfie camera on the front of the iPhone. Having a camera on both the front and the back of the phone seemed like such a luxury at the time.
But recently, Apple has been making waves in the photography space for another reason. It recently bought an Israeli startup company, LinX Imaging. The firm is currently investigating ways of using multiple cameras to take a single image, producing a higher quality result than would be possible with a single camera by itself.
The hope is that the technology will allow regular smartphones to go up again mighty DSLR cameras in the image quality stakes, and win. It’s hard to imagine a tiny, cheap camera fitting in an area smaller than a fingernail beating the industry’s current best offering, but in the world of technology, we’re used to surprises.
A More Sophisticated Autofocus
The other limiting feature of smartphone cameras today is their auto-focus. Focusing should ideally occur both before and after the shot has been taken. But at the moment, smartphones focus before only, meaning that the colours in the background and foreground of the picture have less time to adjust.
LinX wants to change all this. The idea is to use their many-lens approach to allow the adjustment both before and after the shot, like on a regular camera, giving slightly different perspectives.
Smarter Facial Recognition
Machine learning and the cloud are making cameras very good at detecting the faces of certain people. Thanks to these new techniques, it is now possible to take a picture of a person and have software on your phone tag them automatically.
But there’s a problem. At the moment, smartphone cameras don’t have parallax, meaning that it is impossible for them to build up a 3D structure of a person’s face. At present, they essentially have to guess things like depth on a person’s face, which isn’t very helpful when you’re trying to accurately identify somebody. Multiple cameras housed in the same unit will change all this by allowing slightly different perspectives, rather like a pair of human eyes. These different perspectives can then be used to generate a 3D representation of a person’s face, making it easier for a machine to recognise.
Companies like Qualcomm and Google are already working on improving their own technologies. They’re also looking for ways to include them in full-fledged DSLRs, not just smartphones.