Google has developed a program that makes smartphone photographs look professional before users have taken them. The system is able to improve photos in real-time so they appear on a smartphone’s screen while users are still lining up the shot Many smartphones currently touch up photos but only after they have been taken, meaning camera apps do not give a true impression of how they will appeal. The breakthrough, from researchers at Google and MIT, is in speeding up how high-dynamic-range images are processed, meaning they appear on a screen without lagging.
The system uses low-resolution photos as the base from which to apply the effects, meaning it takes around one-tenth of the processing power as processing full resolution ones.
Google researcher Jon Barron said the system could be applied to mobile phones, creating “real-time photographic experiences without draining your battery or giving you a laggy viewfinder experience”. The program was trained using machine-learning on 5,000 photographs that had been retouched by five different photographers, so that it could could learn different ways to improve the photos such as editing brightness or colour saturation.