Socially distant group selfies made easy with patent granted to Apple for selfie software 

by Guest Author on July 1, 2020

in Guest Posts

As the coronavirus pandemic began to reduce, life in many different countries are returning to a new normal as lockdowns lift. This new normal involves wearing face masks, washing our hands regularly and reducing the amount of contact with others and safely keeping a 2 meters distance from one another. The onset of the pandemic has created many challenges and many which we have to now accept as normal. Only recently have restrictions been relaxed enough for many to meet others from outside of their own homes. 

Just like before the pandemic, smartphones have been at the forefront of almost all aspects of our lives. Creating and capturing memories has been a pig part of smartphone progression over the years which is why we have seen much concentration on the smartphone camera from big tech companies. The fluidity smartphone offer has also birthed picture sharing platforms like Instagran and Snapchat for example. Now that many will be reunited with their friends and families , they will want to capture these moments now more than ever after months of being apart. To safely deliver this, Apple has designed an ingenious software that will aid users. 

Apple has recently been granted a patent for a software that will enable users to generate ‘synthetic group selfies’. This could potentially change the way group selfies are taken and make social distancing possible. 

How does it work?

(IMAGE: APPLE/USPTO.GOV)

According to Apple’s patent application, users will be able to invite others to take part in a group selfie. The software will then arrange the users together in a single image, just like a standard selfie. The software is capable of including still photos, live streaming images of stored video images. Participants of the selfie can also keep the original selfie that is taken as well as the group version, meaning that two pictures can be generated. 

As with many selfies, if the users are not happy with the end result once the picture has been generated via the patented software, users are able to modify the selfie. It is basically like taking another selfie, instead, they can change positions and organise the picture until they are happy with the outcome. Each individual’s picture is split into two sections which consist of the subject present in the foreground and the background image. The sections containing users are then combined with one another to be arranged into a sequence that would portray how people would stand in a group picture as illustrated in the image above. The arrangement of heads would be staggered in rows fitting users into the selfie with ease. 

One all users images are in place and the image is scaled to fit all the subjects in, the device is then thought to apply a background image. The background image will be collected prior to the image by analyzing the primary users image and extracting only the background. One this is done, the image will then be available to export as a still image to share on social media platforms. 

The final image will be available for users to store as a collection of self portraits with the background image as well as the positioning of each person within the groups shot. As all elements of the image are stored as discrete items, this is what makes it possible to change the order of people within the picture and if all the different elements are sent to the participants, they too can arrange the picture according to their preference. 

IMAGE: APPLE/USPTO.GOV

As mentioned above, Apple has suggested that the selfie does not have to be limited to images and that an image can also be made from a video clip. This then means that a group picture can be taken by arranging a collection of live video feeds and an automatic background. For non-self lovers, depending on how the software and system is set up, invitations to partake in the group selfie can be rejected. There is also a possibility that invitations for participation can be limited to geographical distance of the initial users who are inviting others. This means only people at an event for example at that time will be able to participate in the group selfie.  

Considering the type of software Apple already has in place on its smartphones, it will not be hard for them to successfully pull off synthetic group selfies. The current generation of iPhones use a TrueDepth camera. The camera already takes advantage of depth maps for Facial ID and Portrait Mode. This is a function that effectively makes separating the subjects from their backgrounds quite easy which is why the syntactic selfie mode will be no feat for Apple. 

Guest article written by: Yasmita Kumar

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gizmonotch July 4, 2020 at 09:21

nice article

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