Artificial intelligence inside our smartphones has so far mainly been exploited by the camera, due to its prowess with scene recognition, and the latest to smarten up its camera tech this way is Vivo. It has launched Super HDR, a supercharged version of regular HDR where the A.I. works to set the correct exposure across more frames than usual, then intelligently merges the best ones together, creating a single, more natural and beautiful, final image.
When you take a photo with a Super HDR-equipped Vivo phone, a total of 12 images are taken in burst-style ultra-fast sequence — more than are taken with regular HDR modes — and using a greater exposure (up to 14 EV, says Vivo) value. The A.I. steps in to assess each aspect of a scene, setting the exposure for different areas after recognizing shape, texture, and lighting conditions. Vivo demonstrates this in several example images, showing how Super HDR reveals detail throughout a scene, despite being backlit by a bright light source.
It’s not just for wide scenes shot agains the sun, or in other environments where the lighting is very challenging. Super HDR is also designed for portrait photography, and because the A.I. knows it’s looking at a person, it will focus on lighting the subject properly, before adjusting background lighting to complement the scene. Vivo says Super HDR is about taking more detailed, clearer photos, with better colors and a more natural look.
Vivo’s A.I.-enhanced Super HDR mode means it now joins Huawei and LG in adding artificial intelligence to the camera app. Huawei has been most successful in its efforts, and uses scene recognition to great effect on the Mate 10 Pro, while LG is only experimenting with a similar system onboard the LG V30S ThinQ. Google hasn’t embraced A.I. for the camera yet, but has its own impressive HDR+ technology inside the Pixel 2 phones, which increases dynamic range and improves colors, but also reduces noise.
Vivo hasn’t announced when we may see Super HDR technology on a phone, if it will require special camera hardware to operate, or if it will be made available as a stand-alone camera app. The company is known for introducing cutting-edge technology ahead of many of its competitors, so this may also be a look at where the industry as a whole may be headed. We’ve contacted the company to find out more details, and will update here when we know more.