A Pair of Apple Patents Covering the 'Portrait Mode' Feature found in the iPhone 7 Plus Model Surfaced Today
Apple's iPhone 7 Plus delivers beautiful photos using a stereo camera system that delivers what professional photographers call the Bokeh Effect. A perfect example of the Bokeh Effect could be seen in the photo below that came from a recent Apple TV ad. The target is the fisherman while the background is gently out of focus so the eye can focus on the target of the photo. To use this feature in iPhone 7 Plus, the user chooses to take their photo in "Portrait Mode" which delivers the Bokeh Effect automatically.
Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a pair of Apple's patent applications covering this technology. The first filing is titled "Photo-realistic Shallow Depth-of-Field Rendering from Focal Stacks," and the second is titled "Depth Map Calculation in a Stereo Camera System."
The first invention states that it's an invention covering "a method for generating an image with a selected level of background blur.
The method includes capturing, by a first image capture device, a plurality of frames of a scene, wherein each of the plurality of frames has a different focus depth, obtaining a depth map of the scene, determining a target object and a background in the scene based on the depth map, determining a goal blur for the background, and selecting, for each pixel in an output image, a corresponding pixel from the focus stack. The method also includes selecting, for each pixel corresponding to the target object, the corresponding pixel from a frame in the focus stack where the target object is in focus, and selecting, for each pixel corresponding to the background, the corresponding pixel from a frame in the focus stack where the background corresponds to the goal blur, and generating, the output image using the selected corresponding pixels." For full details, check out Apple's patent application here.
The second invention states that an invention covering "a method for generating a depth map.
The method includes obtaining a first image of a scene from a first image capture unit, the first image having a first depth-of-field (DOF) and a first number of pixels, obtaining a second image of the scene from a second image capture unit, the second image having a second DOF that is different than the first DOF, the second image having the first number of pixels, wherein each pixel in the second image has a corresponding pixel in the first image, generating a plurality of third images, each corresponding to a blurred version of the second image at each of a plurality of specified depths, generating a plurality of fourth images, each representing a difference between the first image and one of the plurality of third images, and generating a depth map having the first number of pixels, wherein each pixel in the depth map is based on a plurality of pixels, wherein each of the plurality of pixels corresponds to the pixel in one of the plurality of fourth images. For full details, check out Apple's patent application here.
In the first patent, we're able to see patent FIG. 2 above illustrating an example of a multi-camera system being used for capturing stereo image data; In patent FIG. 4 we're able to see a flow chart form, an example method of generating an image with a selected level of background blur using a multi-camera system; and from the second patent we're able to see patent FIG. 3 below that presents another flow chart method for generating a depth map using a stereo camera system.
Both of Apple's patent applications were filed back on September 24, 2015. These are now considered patents fulfilled.
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