Patent published on September 14, 2023

Samsung's New Patent Could Make Smartphone Photos Better In Any Light

Ever snapped a photo with your smartphone only to find the end result doesn't match what you saw? Uncontrollable factors such as adverse environmental lighting, intrusive shadows, or strong directional lights can sometimes distort our precious snaps, making it hard for us to capture what we see accurately. As a solution to this, Samsung Electronics has recently published a patent (US20230289930A1) which could give our smartphone photos a new lease of life.

Taking photographs can often morph into a game of chance, with sunlight, shadows, and lighting quality swaying the outcome. These uncontrollable factors have been causing quality discrepancies for a while, leading us to discard photos that lack good illumination. Fundamentally, our cameras lack a comprehensive understanding of illumination and shadows and are under-equipped to correct for poor illumination. Moreover, existing methods are noticeably slow and incompatible with mobile devices.

That’s where Samsung's new patent comes in. The invention, named "Systems and Methods for Lightweight Machine Learning for Image Illumination Control," is like a clever computer program for pictures. It can split an image into different color parts, fix each part if it's too bright or too dark, and then piece them back together to form a clearer image. Imagine coloring with crayons and going over light colors again to make them just the right shade - it's a bit like that!

This patent's aim is to alter the state of illuminated images by employing "color theory" and the physics of light's interaction with surfaces to train an architectural network that is swift, lightweight, and elicits high-quality details from the image. The patent also introduces an efficient data capturing and processing system that can be easily implemented for any illumination modeling scenario. Capturing lifelike, detailed photographs that represent a wide range of illuminations across portraits becomes effortless with this setup.

The patent also offers various advantages. For one, it can model different illumination variations, compensating for lost details in poorly lit regions and recovering details present in shadows or overexposed areas. It also features a lightweight machine-learning model enabling users to take photographs in varying conditions with near real-time performance. Hence, it allows users to capture images in a particular environmental illumination and then transform them into another environment illumination to create diverse aesthetics on the photograph.

But what does this mean for a world post-this patent? Without a doubt, the way we take and perceive our photographs will change. Family gathering in a dimly lit room? Rainy day at the park? Late-night walk on a poorly lit road? All these scenarios will no longer be a hindrance to capturing our perfect moments. They can easily be transformed into bright, clear, and aesthetically pleasing images in just a few taps on our smartphone screens.

However, it's important to remember that this invention is merely a patent at this stage. While the potential of it transforming our photography experiences is exciting, there are no assurances yet whether it will materialize into an actual product in the market.

P.S. All the 'figures' mentioned here from FIG. 1 to FIG. 31 are detailed sketches or blueprints attached with the patent that hint towards how the technology works and might be used once it hits the market. These, however, are purely theoretical right now, and tangible applications may need more development and refinement.

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