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June 2019    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 45, No. 6   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Apple’s iPhone Plans to Lure Underwater Photographers

from the June, 2019 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

You don't hear of many divers bragging about the underwater shots they took with their iPhones. Looks like Apple wants to change that. The company applied for several new patents in March, including one for a system that can automatically detect when a photograph is being taken by an iPhone underwater, and lets it make changes to the image to improve its overall look.

Because water absorbs light selectively (first by losing longer wavelengths, like red), light levels can be significantly reduced, and turbidity can reduce visibility, photos taken beneath the waves are typically underwhelming. With this new patent, once the iPhone detects its user is underwater, it'll deploy an assortment of sensors to determine what changes need to be made to the image. One is a color and ambient light sensor that calculates how much light is being being absorbed by the water. There are other sensors for depth, distance and orientation, plus a backscatter sensor to determine how the water's murkiness level. The system will absorb all this data to make visual adjustments, and ideally reward you with an amazing shot that needs no heavy strobes or unwieldy arms.

Until now, only the Danish-made Paralenz camera offers automatic color-correction at depth changes. Apple usually releases its newest iPhone version every September. Let's see if it announces something special for underwater photographers this fall.

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