The smartphone market is full of fierce competition and photography is always one of the fiercest “battlefields”. Besides users’ insatiable desires for better battery capacity, durability, storage space, and better processing speed, camera quality always ranks as one of the major factors when choosing to buy a phone.
However, for a long time, users and tech circles have somewhat separated the photographic quality of high-end phones by characteristics such as tone or color temperature from the final image.
But in the future, this distinction is likely to disappear. Because earlier this year, Spectricity, a Belgium-based startup, unveiled a new sensor technology with the very simple name, S1.
Spectricity claims the S1 is the first mass-produced miniaturized true image spectral sensor for mobile devices. And the company is not shy about claiming that it aims to dominate the sector. Within the next couple of years, Spectricity boldly predicts that its sensor will be in every smartphone.
The Belgian company’s confidence stems from one central issue, which is “true color” measurement on smartphones. Because according to Spectricty, that’s something even the best smartphones can’t do today.
This issue stems from deficiencies in the white balance software that smartphone manufacturers use to remove unrealistic color hues. In comparison, our natural vision system, the eyes for short, does this very well. When we see a white wall in sunlight or fluorescent lights, our brain adjusts the color temperature to make both scenes make the wall appear white. Smartphones try to do the same, but the results are often disappointing.
Because they are limited by the three RGB color channels of red, green, and blue, the automatic white balance algorithms often have trouble adjusting the color temperature and produce unnatural colors. This is why photos taken under incandescent light bulbs may appear more orange than photos taken in bright sunlight, and under shade, things may appear greener.
“Despite the great processing power behind today’s camera systems, none of them can recognize true color,” Spectricity CEO Vincent Moret co.
To solve this problem, the S1 sensor uses additional filters to analyze the spectral signature of an object. After sensing the light source in the image, the system will correct the color accordingly.
During its Spectricity demo, the company directly compared the images produced by the S1’s sensor with the camera images of high-end smartphones. Although results don’t always match the real thing, colors in images produced by the S1 are more consistent under different light sources.
Michael Jacobs, an application engineer at the company, said: “With our solution, you can get the same color regardless of the lighting conditions.”
This sensor’s application ambitions extend far beyond good photos. Spectricity envisions using the sensor for remote cosmetics sales, e-commerce, identity verification, skin health analysis, and even smart gardening.
A key component of these plans is the ability to show skin tone. Cameras on smartphones have long shown that they are not good at showing dark skin. Skin analysis applications for medical purposes, make-up … are also affected when inaccurate results are recorded. But the S1, with its ability to recognize dark skin, could expand access to these services.
Of course, smartphone giants like Apple and Samsung are also investing heavily in creating color accuracy, but Specritity says competitors in the industry won’t be able to create competitive products. using sensor S1. Because this is the result of a long and focused research process.
More specifically, S1 is a by-product of the Interuniversity Microelectronics Center (IMEC), a research laboratory in nanoelectronics and digital technology. The link between this hub has helped the startup accumulate 19 patents and 66 active applications, as well as 13 PhDs in their research portfolio.
To commercialize the technological innovations, Spectricity has established a mass production line and is now ready for mass production.
S1 is currently rated by major smartphone manufacturers. With smartphone sales trending downward globally, Spectricity is betting that the S1’s sensor will give its partner an irresistible edge.
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