A cutting-edge chip can instantly convert your smartphone snapshots into
more realistic, professional-looking ones, an American study says.
by the MIT's Microsystems Technology Lab, the chip can instantly create
a more realistic or enhanced lighting in a shot without destroying its
ambience. The technology could be integrated with any smartphone, tablet
computer or digital camera.
Existing computational photography
systems tend to be software applications that are installed onto cameras
and smartphones, says Rahul Rithe, graduate student in MIT's Department
of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, who led the project.
such systems consume substantial power, take a considerable amount of
time to run, and require a fair amount of knowledge on the part of the
user, according to a MIT statement.
"We wanted to build a single
chip that could perform multiple operations, consume significantly less
power compared to doing the same job in software, and do it all in real
time," Rithe says.
He developed the chip with Anantha
Chandrakasan, professor of electrical engineering, graduate student
Priyanka Raina, research scientist Nathan Ickes and undergraduate
One such task, known as High Dynamic Range (HDR)
imaging, is designed to compensate for limitations on the range of
brightness that can be recorded by existing digital cameras, to capture
pictures that more accurately reflect the way we perceive the same
scenes with our own eyes.
Another task the chip can carry out is
to enhance the lighting in a darkened scene more realistically than
conventional flash photography.
"Typically when taking pictures in
a low-light situation, if we don't use flash on the camera we get
images that are pretty dark and noisy, and if we do use the flash we get
bright images but with harsh lighting, and the ambience created by the
natural lighting in the room is lost," Rithe says.
So in this
instance the processor takes two images, one with a flash and one
without. It then splits both into a base layer, containing just the
large-scale features within the shot, and a detailed layer.
it merges the two images, preserving the natural ambience from the base
layer of the non-flash shot, while extracting the details from the
picture taken with the flash.