Sure, Apple’s Live Photos and Google’s new Motion Photos do a decent job of animating a still image, but researchers at Tel Aviv University and Facebook have come up with a way to bring selfies to life even if the only data they have to work with is a single photo. The recently-published study details how the team can use a “driving video” of any person it wants to essentially map out different facial expressions that correlate to various emotions. Through some careful mapping, those same expressions can be translated to a still photo or even a painting. Clicking a selfie is the most cherished feature for most people using a cellphone. Cameras on smartphones have improved dramatically since the first iPhone landed 10 years ago. While older handsets could muster no more than a blurry snap, some of today’s smartphone photos are good enough to be blown up to billboard size.
From facial recognition software to blurred backgrounds and dedicated selfie modes, the innovations are endless and show no signs of slowing down. There are already a handful of smartphones adding dual-camera lens, including the Huawei P10, the LG G6 and the iPhone 7 Plus, but this is something that could end up on every handset as standard in the future.
With the new iPhone X, Apple’s new TrueDepth camera is offering a suite of technologies—flood illuminator, infrared camera, front-facing camera and dot projector—which will project and analyse 30,000 dots across your visage, creating a high-resolution map of your facial features. This super-selfie enables some of the phone’s most compelling new features: things like automatically unlocking your phone or paying for coffee with your face. Amazon claims it can parse human emotion by studying video clips. And while Apple’s animoji does little more than mimic facial expressions, it could some day lead to a phone that has far greater emotional intelligence. Investing in the front camera is a huge task for cellphone manufacturers.
Out of the range of phones that Asus announced recently under its Zenfone 4 series, two were selfie-focused—Asus ZenFone 4 Selfie and ZenFone 4 Selfie Pro. The Taiwan-based smartphone manufacturer has brought another selfie-centric phone under its Zenfone 4 series—Selfie Lite. On the front, the smartphone comes with—yet again—a 13-megapixel sensor, which comes coupled with an f/2.0 aperture and a softlight LED flash, which is expected to allow users to capture better selfies. The front cam also includes Asus’ SelfieMaster technology. This allows users to add real-time beautification effects on captured photos and videos. Apart from these features, Zenfone 4 Selfie Lite also comes with a portrait mode, which will allow users to capture pictures with a blurry background.
Google’s second-generation Pixel mobile phones are able to take “portrait mode” photos via both their front and rear single-lens cameras. The single-lens portrait mode photos were made possible by its adoption of a dual-pixel sensor—meaning each pixel can be used to both record the image and determine focus rather than just one or the other.
Some of Samsung’s handsets already feature the technology, but Google has built on it with proprietary software to make it possible to create a depth map for photos, which can be used to add special effects. An added benefit of this approach is that the new phones’ front “selfie” cameras can also use portrait mode. And in the months to come, Google intends to make use of the depth information to let users add advanced augmented reality characters to their images.
The Honor 9i will also diligently beautify your face for you in case you do not look like a model. On the front, there is a 13MP primary sensor paired with a secondary 2MP sensor, the addition of which allows for the capture of images with depth of field effects. There are a few ‘smart’ features on offer as well. You can take selfies via gestures if you are stuck in a pose where reaching the shutter button becomes impossible. In addition, the Honor 9i comes with a feature called ‘smart selfie toning flash’ which intelligently adjusts the brightness level of the front-facing flash in accordance with the surroundings.
For many users, it’s time to pick up a phone because you want a better selfie rather than a phone which also has a camera.