Almalence’s SuperSensor boosts mobile camera quality beyond physical limitations

Almalence Super Sensor LogoToday at the Embedded Vision Alliance meeting, Almalence has announced SuperSensor, a groundbreaking technology for integrated camera quality improvement without hardware modifications.

During the last few years mobile handset makers have been struggling to deliver the best image quality and advanced camera features. The camera has nearly become the number one feature of a mobile phone and the main thing that makes a difference for users. While the mobile camera quality seems to have nearly achieved its physical limitations, Almalence’s new technology is designed to give this a leap beyond confines.

SuperSensor Examples

Top: the font is too small, the illumination is too low and dynamic range is too high to capture the pictures.
Bottom: same scenes, same conditions, same camera, but with SuperSensor technology.

“Mobile handset makers always come to a point where camera quality improvement is impossible due to size restrictions or the cost, usually both”, says Eugene Panich, CEO of Almalence. “Using a computational component such as SuperSensor is a way to improve mobile camera features without adding a micron to its size and at just a small fraction of the cost of typical hardware improvement. While hardware improvements can take years to utilize, the time to market for a computational component could be as short as days, and you can even put it into the devices that are already sold via a system upgrade.”

Unlike other imaging solutions, each of which improves some specific property such as dynamic range or noise level only, SuperSensor provides complex improvements. Its effect is similar to replacing a 1/4” sensor with a 1/3” sensor containing more pixels, which results in higher resolution, lower noise, higher speed, and wider dynamic range altogether.

A demo of SuperSensor in a form of Android app for Nexus 5 is publicly available on Google Play. The first devices which utilize the Almalence SuperSensor technology are expected to be available on the market in 2015.

Further information, examples and demo can be found at: almalence.com/doc/super-sensor-demo

About Almalence
Almalence develops computational photography methods and imaging technologies that improve imaging quality and make advanced photography features available. Whether it is a mobile camera or a hi-end DSLR, a microscope or a satellite imaging system, Almalence’s solutions enable the improvement of basic image quality parameters such as resolution, low light performance, and dynamic range beyond the cameras’ physical limits. Almalence is a mobile imaging solutions provider for top mobile handset OEMs, a maker of the world’s best and unique desktop super resolution software and end-user mobile camera applications.

Rumors

Image Sensors World: Oppo Smartphone Snaps 50MP Pictures

Engadget has had a chance to test Oppo Find 7 smartphone camera – a high end smartphone long rumored to feature 50MP sensor.

Although it’s hard to tell for sure, but it looks like Oppo has licensed Almalence Super Zoom technology. There is a comparison of Almalence Superresolution Zoom with Sony Clear Image Zoom and an article on its implementation in Huawei phones.

Oppo-Find-7-super-zoom-2

Almalence’s new technology makes cameras see like human eye

Have you ever noticed that you see much more details when looking at a scene by eye than when seeing a photo of the same scene? If not, it’s just because it’s too common to be noticed. Even having, physically, a lower dynamic range than a camera, human eyes see more.

Almalence Dynamic Range Optimizer optimizes the usage of dynamic range of 8-bit images to make the most of image details visible. DRO uses a technique similar to tone mapping, exploiting the peculiarities of human vision. DRO can be used either for optimal conversion of RAW images into 8-bit RGB/YUV images or for improvement of existing 8-bit images.

Almalence Dynamic Range Optimizer reveals details in highlights and shadows. Automatic processing within milliseconds.

Same data acquired by the camera, different usage of dynamic range. Left: standard image produced by the camera. Right: result of Almalence DRO processing, close to what human eye would see. Details in shadows are revealed due to optimization of dynamic range usage. Noise is not amplified.

DRO is easy-to-integrate, extremely fast solution that automatically improves the images in 100% cases and can substitute HDR in most of cases.

Comparing to existing solutions aiming to provide similar improvements of digital imaging, Almalence DRO:

  • is faster by the order of magnitude, which allows to use it in mobile devices, for both still images and video
  • provides better quality, mainly due to absence of noise amplification in shadows
  • improves both shadows and highlights
Details in shadows are revealed due to optimization of dynamic range usage. Noise is not amplified.

Left: standard image, right: DRO processed (optimized) image. Details in both shadows and highlights are revealed due to optimization of dynamic range usage.

DRO can be integrated in ISP, camera drivers or applications.

Some comparison examples are available on our site: DRO_examples_Almalence_site.zip (33 MB)

Demo application is available upon request.

A Better Camera: alpha testers wanted!

For years we’ve been providing you with the most advanced imaging applications for Android. Now we have fused all our applications into a single multi-purpose camera app.

Moreover, we have made this application open source so that it should be backed with the power of Android developers community!

We are excited to invite you to become an tester of a very early alpha version of the application.

See the details on A Better Camera site

Almalence makes super resolution available on camera phones

Almalence, the developer of world’s first super resolution technology commercially available on desktop computers, announces that its solution becomes available in the most advanced smartphones in 2013.

Super resolution is now used to provide high quality pictures at high zoom levels in Huawei’s flagship models Ascend P2 and Ascend P6, SHARP’s new devices and emerging devices of several Korean and Taiwanese mobile phone makers.

Nowadays, the resolution of modern mobile phones is quite enough for amateur photography, unless it comes to zooming. With no optical zoom lens, the zoomed images are nothing more than upsized and sharpened low resolution crops. For example, 4x zoom on a 8 Megapixel mobile phone has 0.5 Megapixel effective resolution at best, not taking lens blur into account.

That’s where Almalence’s super resolution can be effectively used to enhance the quality of the images. While further improvement of sensor and lens seems either impossible or very expensive, software solutions allow going beyond the camera’s physical limits.

“Almalence’s Super Resolution Zoom is a pure software solution that does not require change of sensor or lens. This allows an extremely quick and cost-effective integration” – says Eugene Panich, CEO Almalence, Inc., – “in the beginning of 2013 we have integrated Super Resolution Zoom in quite different devices developed by several OEMs in very short timeframes and with almost no efforts required from OEMs.”

Huawei Ascend P2 Super Resolution Zoom Test

Huawei Ascend P2 was the first device with super resolution zoom on the market. These comparison photos were taken at MWC 2013 where P2 was presented. (Left: usual zoom; right: super resolution zoom)

Unlike edge enhancement and noise filtering techniques, super resolution provides real increase of effective resolution, making visible the details that are indistinguishable in normal shots. It virtually doubles the megapixel count of the camera. Capturing more details in zoomed area, it replaces optical zoom lens, for a trifling fraction of cost of such lens, and adding no single atom of weight and size to the device.

Huawei Ascend P6 Super Resolution Zoom test under 150 Lux: Resolution increases 1.9 times

“Spilled coins” (aka “Dead Leaves”) chart taken with Huawei P6 mobile phone (illuminance: 150 lux). Normal 2x zoom vs Super Resolution 2x Zoom. MTF30 measurement with ImaTest shows 1.9x effective resolution increase.

Almalence’s Super Resolution Zoom is a multi-frame technology, which adds benefit of drastic noise reduction in low light conditions.

Super Resolution Zoom under low light (20 Lux). Noise is reduced with no loss of detail. (Test with Huawei Ascend P6)

Images taken with Huawei P6 mobile phone under low light (20 Lux): Normal 2x zoom versus Super Resolution 2x Zoom

Super resolution zoom by Almalence can be used in quite different modes of operation. In some devices it is a background processing while in others it works real time in viewfinder.

Comparing to the technologies that imply physical improvement of the camera, such as using BSI sensors or 41 Megapixel sensors, Super Resolution Zoom is not just a competitor, but also a good addition that is compatible with almost any kind of sensor and lens and improves the image quality no matter how good the camera is.

Almalence’s nearest plan is to implement a hardware super resolution zoom using Tensilica IVP32 image processor, which will result in a solution capable of real time video processing and processing of high resolution still images in tens of milliseconds.

More  information: http://almalence.com/embedded-imaging#superzoom

Superb quality zoom with newly available Huawei Ascend P2, first tests at MWC 2013

Camera became one of the things (if not the only one) that really make the difference in modern smartphones. Among the leading OEMs such as HTC, Sony and Intel who emphasize their new advanced camera features, Huawei offers something really unique – SuperZoom feature, allowing to take high quality images when zooming in with a mobile phone camera.

We had a chance to test SuperZoom feature with Huawei Ascend P2 phone at Huawei’s stand at Mobile World Congress. In brief, it works incredibly, see the pictures below.

Comparison: SuperZoom vs normal zoom, Huawei Ascend P2

Left: normal zoom, right: Super Zoom

SuperZoom versus ordinary zoom comparison, Huawei Ascend P2

Left: generic digital zoom, right: SuperZoom

Comparison: Super Zoom versus generic zoom, Huawei P2

Left: ordinary zoom, right: Super Zoom

SuperZoom on Huawei P2, sample image, test against usual zoom

Left: usual zoom, low detail; right: Super Zoom, high resolution and lot of details

Conclusion: SuperZoom is a revolutionary technology providing zoom quality comparable to optical zoom, on mobile devices!

Feb 25, 2013, Barcelona.

Catch the very moment with our new Android application

Unlike the other cameras that take an image after you tap the shutter button, Pix Fix keeps taking the images until you tap the button.

So, the meaning of the Button is now “Stop! That’s a wrap!” instead of “That’s the moment, ooops I’ve missed it”.

After clicking the shutter button you have a series of photos taken before the click. You can then pick the photos where the moment is captured or save the whole series.

Pix Fix is available at introductory price on Google Play. Get it now!

 

Real-time SuperZoom demo on Samsung Galaxy Nexus

We’ve implemented a real-time SuperZoom demo on Samsung Galaxy Nexus. As far as we know, that is the only real-time implementation of super resolution technology in the world

SuperZoom demo. Real time super resolution on a mobile device.Features: imaging
8x, 16x, 32x Zoom
Real time (5-8 fps)
GPU utilization
1.5x – 2x effective resolution increase

Features: user interface
Real-time viewfinder with comparison of standard zoom and SuperZoom
Taking and saving of photos – standard and SuperZoom simultaneously.

Click here to see PowerPoint presentation. Is is also available in pdf format: click here.
Super resolution on mobile device: test of resolution improvement.