In an effort to improve the quality of iPhone pictures, Apple has bought U.K.-based startup Spectral Edge. The company developed a form of machine learning that can substantially improve picture quality in low-light conditions — its AI takes data from an infrared shot and combines it with the actual image captured, increasing the depth of color in the picture.
AI-based photography has been a popular field of development for tech companies over the last few years, working to improve smartphone camera performance for low-light settings — Apple’s Night Mode in iPhone 11 is one example of this development. According to Managing Director of Spectral Edge Christopher Cytera, the technology “bring[s] in extra detail into the picture that you can’t necessarily see with a normal camera because infrared penetrates through mist and fog much better than visible light.” Spectral Edge’s technology can be integrated by either software or chips. This, however, could be pushed further when combined with a 3-D iPhone camera that Apple may put out next year, incorporating augmented reality and depth sensing.
Thus far, it appears the price Apple paid to acquire Spectral Edge is still unknown, but the startup is said to have raised funds worth over $5 million USD in total.