Google Brings Faux-Bokeh To Newest Version of Camera App

By calculating depth from a series of photos, the new version of Google Camera can simulate bokeh

google camera bokeh
google camera bokeh

Google has just rolled out a new version of its Google Camera app to Google Play—and with the new version comes the ability to blur out backgrounds. But unlike, say, the crude fuzziness of Instagram, Google Camera actually takes a much more advanced path to figuring out where and how much to blur—it generates a depth map based from a series of pictures to correctly identify the foreground and background.

Lens Blur replaces the need for a large optical system with algorithms that simulate a larger lens and aperture. Instead of capturing a single photo, you move the camera in an upward sweep to capture a whole series of frames. From these photos, Lens Blur uses computer vision algorithms to create a 3D model of the world, estimating the depth (distance) to every point in the scene.

The blogpost goes into some more technical details about how the process works, if you're interested. By the key takeaway is that rather than just blur everything, the app attempts to accurately gauge the distance to the various parts of the image, then calculate an appropriate level of blurring to properly simulate a large sensor camera.

While it's probably not going to be on-par with using a DSLR, it's still a very impressive technological advancement. The own downside? It's only available for those using Android 4.4 or better.

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