Patent published on September 5, 2023

Snapchat's New Patent Could End Black Bars in Photos

Have you ever taken a picture or a video on your phone only to realize that there are annoying black bars on the sides? It seems to occur when the photo doesn't fit perfectly on your screen, maybe when you rotate your device. Well, Snap Inc., known for its social media platform, Snapchat, may have a solution.

In a recent patent, US11749230B2, titled "Rotational image viewer," Snap Inc. aims to solve this pesky problem. The patent describes a special tool to be used on phones and tablets that promises an end to this awkward image distortion. The crux of the solution is that as you tilt your device, the image will adjust its size to fit your screen perfectly, eliminating those black bars on the edges of your images.

The problem arises commonly when viewing images or videos on mobile devices, whether it's content reported by users or images captured by the device. These images or videos are often not well-fitted to different screen orientations. Ever tried rotating your phone while watching a video or viewing a picture and getting black bars on the sides? That's the issue this patent is trying to solve.

While this may seem like a minor inconvenience, in the age of Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok, picture quality and presentation can make or break a user's social media experience. Distorted or misfit photos can be off-putting, which in turn can influence the level of engagement a post receives.

So how does this work? Imagine you're using Snapchat to view a post or take a photo. The patented technology would detect the orientation of your mobile device and dynamically expand or contract the image to fill the screen. This means, if you tilt your phone sideways, the tool will automatically resize the image to continue filling the screen appropriately, thus avoiding any distortion or black bars.

The implementation of this patented technology can revolutionize how we interact with mobile visual media. No more need to squint to see a landscape photo on a vertically held phone. Visual content consumption could become more seamless, possibly giving birth to a more fluid user experience across mobile devices that implement the technology.

Imagine being able to fully enjoy watching a short video on TikTok or Instagram Reels, regardless of your phone position. Or think about videographers who use their mobile devices to capture beautiful panoramas. With this innovation, they could flawlessly record and playback their artwork without worrying about their audience not being able to fully experience their view.

However, a patent is just a promise of innovation. There is no guarantee that Snap Inc. will bring this technology to the market or to Snapchat. Patents sometimes stay as futuristic ideas on paper never coming into fruition. Until then, we can just imagine what it would be like to view photos and videos without those pesky black bars.

P.S. Remember this is a patent (US11749230B2), and it's unclear if or when this feature might turn up on Snapchat or any other platform. We can only hope to see these ideas come to life sooner rather than later.

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