The latest update brings a number of new features:
Since BLINK captures frames both before and after the user triggers the capture, one of the issues in the previous version was that users could potentially get a focus sweep in the captured. This could lead to the sequence having a few blurry frames. With the latest version, we added a new feature that does continuous auto-focus – we automatically refocus whenever required. Focus is triggered based on a few different criteria. We now have a fast face tracker running on the phone that is continuously monitoring the preview feed. If we find a suitable face(s) we focus on the face, as the people are presumably the subject of the photograph. We also monitor the phone’s orientation and movement continuously through the phone’s motion sensors and monitor image statistics to see how much the image in view is changing. If no faces are present, a focus is triggered once a reasonable movement of the phone is detected or the statistics of the scene have changed appreciably.
We do also retain the ability to manually trigger the autofocus mechanism through the half-press of the dedicated camera button and release, which the user can use if needed.
Happy developers with faces
One of the important aspects of BLINK is the image alignment algorithm that runs right after a capture and stabilizes the frames in the sequence. This has the useful effect of minimizing frame-to-frame changes that could occur from hand shake or other jitter while capturing. The frame-to-frame difference are not noticeable when viewing an individual frame, but can be readily seen as the user scans through the sequence by moving the frame picker or while playing the sequence. In BLINK the stabilization algorithm removes distracting hand shake motion and helps users see the more important changes from frame to frame.
With the new update we have significant improvements to the stabilization algorithm. The stabilizer runs by identifying salient image features in each frame and tracking them through the sequence. We now have improved the stabilizer to (a) choose a better subset of features (b) use a more representative model for the change between frames. As a result we get really good stabilization as you can see in the sequence below.
This is a hand held sequence playing back and forth but can you see any motion?
GIF encoding and upload to Skydrive
Once of the highly requested features by users of BLINK is the ability to encode and share the BLINK sequences in the highly popular GIF format We listened, and with this update users will be able to select Skydrive as one of their share destinations and the BLINK sequence will be encoded to a GIF and uploaded to Skydrive. Once on Skydrive, the user can view the GIFs playing through Skydrive’s web viewer or can download the GIF for other uses.
The share screen in BLINK
With the new update we also added image metadata encoding in the images that are saved via BLINK. Users will now find the date, time and the location information in the EXIF data (image properties) of the images that they saved through BLINK to the phone camera roll. Users can then use this information for sorting and other purposes.