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Apple’s “Continuous Capture” Patent is a Copy of Samsung’s “Burst Shot” Feature

Apple 'continuous image capture'

[Credit: Apple Insider]

Samsung has really put its name on the map with the arrival of its Galaxy S2 and now S3 smartphones. The S3 was the hottest phone of the summer last summer, and I was told by a US Cellular representative to order the phone from the USCC headquarters in Chicago, since there wouldn’t be any in stock when I returned. Sure enough, the S3 was in and out of stock within a matter of hours — and this was the second time I arrived at the USCC store to purchase the new smartphone. Samsung went on to sell approximately 60 million Galaxy S3s in the last seven months and will sell as many (if not more) Galaxy S4s. So far, the phone looks to have a five-inch display, 1080p video recording, a 2-megapixel front-facing camera and a 13-megapixel, rear-facing camera. It could also come with wireless charging, since Samsung recently created a wireless charging backplate for Galaxy S3 owners.

It has been nearly a year ago now, but I can remember how excited I was to get my hands on the phone. And then, to watch videos about the S3 only excited me all the more when I finally held it in my hands. Some friends of mine and I were watching demonstration videos about the S3 and what it can do — and the videos motivated me to purchase the smartphone. Samsung’s Burst Shot is one of the coolest features about the phone: it allows you to take several photos in rapid succession and then select the best one. According to news from the Mac Observer, Apple looks to produce a patent that is rather similar to the Samsung smartphone feature. The patent application states the following:

“A method comprising; continuously, after entering a mode, capturing a sequence of images with an image capturing device…storing a predetermined number of the sequence of images in a buffer; receiving a user request to capture an image; and in response to the user request, automatically selecting one of the buffered images based on an image contrast parameter that compares pixel values within each buffered image, wherein the sequence of images were captured prior to receiving the user request”  (Jim Tanous, “Apple Patent App will improve Images Using Continuous Capture”).

The patent points to a “sequence of images,” one after another; next, it points to images “captured prior to receiving the user request” and “storing a predetermined number of the sequence of images in a buffer,” more or less taking pictures of all of its surroundings without an individual request by a user for the camera to capture a photo. While this is slightly different from Samsung’s in that images are stored before a user request, it is similar to Samsung’s Burst Shot in that it, like Burst Shot, will snap a succession of photos. The patent application also states that the best image will be selected by “comparing pixel values,” selecting the one that has the best pixels per inch (ie., screen resolution per image).

Tanous does not note the similarity to Samsung’s Burst Shot (although it is obvious), but he does note Apple’s Continuous Capture patent is similar to a Blackberry Photo Feature:

“The process described [continuous capture] is similar to that introduced by Blackberry in its Blackberry 10 camera app. As described by Blackberry, its software also captures full resolution images once the user opens the preview window, and it allows a user to manually adjust an image, or parts of an image, to a previous frame”  (Tanous, “Apple Patent App Will Improve Images Using Continuous Capture”).

I must admit; the Apple camera feature bears more striking resemblance to Blackberry than Samsung, but it does seem to bear resemblance to Samsung’s (and even HTC with its One smartphones) in terms of the constant photos. We have no idea why Apple is filing this patent except to say that the company intends to use it, but the fact that Cupertino is taking cues from BB is not a good sign at all.

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