Some Simple Software Could Make Your Smartphone Camera Way Better

Some Simple Software Could Make Your Smartphone Camera Way Better

Smartphone photography is convenient, but far from perfect. Enter Canadian startup Algolux, which promises to use some clever computation to make up for how small and crappy your smartphone camera lens is.

Lenses are a significant part of why your DSLR takes stellar shots and your smartphone simply acceptable ones. As smoother a lens, the less distortion it produces, and it’s easier to make a large lens relatively smoother than a tiny one.

But Algolux thinks that distortions from ropey lenses can be fixed using software. Its promotional shots, such as the one below, certainly seem to suggest it could change the images we snap dramatically: fine details looks sharper, like the spines of that cactus. But how does it work? Actually, it’s — perhaps understandably — all a little secretive. But the main thrust of the idea is simple enough: the software uses a calibration tool to analyse defects in the lens, then inverts them so that it can remove them in post-processing.

The company is also developing a new tool for removing motion blur. That uses high-speed video acquired by your front-facing camera, along with data from any on-board motion sensors, to track how your phone moves in order to correct the blur. The results, shown in the photograph up top, are incredibly impressive.

As Technology Review points out, there are some barriers, not least the fact that Apple devices won’t allow front and rear camera use simultaneously on the iPhone. More worryingly, extra processing always places a strain on processor and battery life, so tricks like this could chew up plenty of valuable resources on your phone. Still, if Algolux can make the software light enough, we might still see small form factor cameras which take better shots. It’s either that, or content yourself with Nokia’s PureView bulge. [Algolux via Technology Review]