Canon has been awarded a patent for new artificial intelligence (AI) driven technology that will automatically zoom in to better frame a photo before capture.
Canon’s new AI Zoom technology seeks to identify subjects within a photo’s frame and then either optically or digitally zoom into the picture without the photographer having to adjust it themselves.
Moreover, the camera would have various composition options for the camera operator to choose from in order to limit the amount of autozoom that the camera will choose. According to the patent application — spotted by Digicame Info — options would include “face up,” “bust-up,” and “whole body,” plus a manual option through the camera’s touchscreen LCD, enabling the tap on a subject within the composition and lock focus onto that subject.
The patent also seems to indicate that the autozoom feature could be used in both tripod and handheld modes, but looking at the examples, it would appear that its primary focus may be for use when the camera operator is also in front of the camera. A selfie style mode may be part of the autozoom function, as well as face tracking, much like what Apple has done with Center Stage on the iPad.
At first glance, this feature does not seem to describe an end result that is anything particularly new. There there are several cameras, like Canon’s Powershot PICK and even Facebook’s Portal camera, that can lock onto a subject and keep them in focus and frame as they walk around the scene.
This is largely handled by digitally zooming in and out of the 4K image and transmitting it in 1080p. Where the patent becomes unique is that it may be the first time this idea is combined with a camera that will optically auto-zoom to keep a subject in the frame according to preset input.
As is often the case with patents, Canon doesn’t specify what kind of product it might put this AI-driven feature into. It makes sense that it might appear in the next generation PowerShot PICK, should Canon choose to continue to iterate on that design, but it could just as likely never see the light of day. Only time will tell.