When looking at buying a smartphone, the feature that many consumers want to take home with them is a high-performance camera. Given the rise of image-sharing websites like Instagram, the selfie phenomenon, and the fact that mobile phones are people’s go-to devices for taking photos, it’s no wonder that manufacturers are working hard to improve the quality and control of their smartphones’ cameras.
Every year, smartphone manufacturers bring out a range of new features to the market, and while things like large screens, filters, high megapixel count and a xenon flash used to get customers the most excited, a new spec that everyone will be obsessing about in the coming years is artificial intelligence (AI).
Huawei’s flagship P20 smartphones, released earlier this year, are the latest in a series of AI-powered models to hit the shelves. We’ve already seen the iPhone X, Galaxy Note 8, and the LG V30S ThinQ revolutionising the smartphone camera and it’s likely that more vendors will jump on the bandwagon in the coming years. By 2020, AI will have gone from a rising star in the smartphone camera evolution to a basic, all-around feature of even a mid-range smartphone.
Other industries have already showcased AI’s capabilities to carry out tasks that require human intelligence and solve a lot of problems faster. The technology will also make a lot of people’s image capturing a whole lot easier. Many smartphone users are not professional photographers; they’re just people with cameras who want to capture a shot at family gatherings or vacations. As such, they might want a powerful yet easy-to-use camera that allows them to use it in a wide range of situations. In this article, which Bandwidth Blog presents in collaboration with content partner, Hippo.co.za, we look at what users can expect from the next generation of smartphone cameras.
AI photography in action
Suppose you’re at a wedding and want to take a picture with a blurred background that makes the bridal party stand out. For this, you would usually need a dual-lens smartphone camera and to manually control the depth of field. With an AI camera, the machine learning algorithms becomes your photographic eye. AI immediately recognises the subject, and blurs the background while keeping the foreground subject crisp and sharp, allowing you to effortlessly create the studio portrait look.
Here’s another scenario: you’ve been in an accident and might not know how to take photos of an accident to help with your car insurance claim. Sometimes, it’s the little details that can make or break a car insurance settlement and, if you don’t collect clear evidence of what happened, it could be tough to pinpoint who or what is to blame for the accident.
With so many things to photograph at the scene (damage, witnesses, traffic signs, weather), you might miss important details, especially in low lighting. An AI camera has the ability to capture objects and scenery in low lighting not even visible to the eye. The camera’s real-time processing can identify 18 different scenes — including food, flowers and people — and set the most optimum mode for the best lighting effects. AI can also recognise facial features, skin tone and type, gender, and age of all subjects in the photograph and automatically optimise the shot to produce a high-quality portrait.
What used to be a concept of science fiction is now within reach of consumers. AI is changing the game for smartphone technology by making the applications of advanced photography and image editing software available to ordinary point-and-shooters.