Apple super resolution technology clouds flash LED usage
The super resolution photo technology, which is based on Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) technology, was filed last week at the U.S. Patent Trademark Office (USPTO) and aims to give Apple a competitive edge compared with the company’s smartphone competitors.
The patent Apple filed integrates traditional OIS system with advanced image processing techniques to create what the company describes as ‘super-resolution’ imaging.
One proposed system design includes a camera, an actuator for OIS positioning, a positioning sensor, inertial sensor, an OIS processor and a super resolution engine. An electronic image sensor captures a reference optical sample through an optical path. Thereafter, an optical image stabilization (OIS) processor to adjusts the optical path to the electronic image sensor by a known amount. A second optical sample is then captured along the adjusted optical path, such that the second optical sample is offset from the first optical sample by no more than a sub-pixel offset. The OIS processor may reiterate this process to capture a plurality of optical samples at a plurality of offsets. The optical samples may be combined to create a super-resolution image.
A central processor will regulate the mechanism and act as a data transfer hub between the different components.
An OIS-based solution offers physical stabilization benefits of improved image quality and stability compared with software based digital solutions and could influence future flash LED usage.
Traditionally when Apple has upgraded camera specifications they have been linked to image resolution improvements. The proposed OIS solution will enable photo resolution to be upgraded without adding extra megapixels which would mean that Apple could continue with the company’s digital resolution approach while still using existing camera lens specs. The result would be that future iPhone camera upgrades may focus more on improving image processing software and image processing chip hardware.
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