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Mobile image processing involves modifying, classifying or somehow interpreting images that are captured on mobile devices such as cell phones or handheld computers. Mobile image processing is largely concerned with giving users the ability to correct images taken from the device’s camera immediately after taking a photograph, or software that auto-corrects image aspects that are generally considered undesirable. Other uses for mobile image processing include object tracking and detection as well as translation of documents into actual digital text. As the technology used to create handheld devices progresses, so too does the speed and complexity of the image processing software used.
The most basic type of mobile image processing is an application that operates on a photograph taken with the camera mounted on the device. These can be simple operations such as allowing the user to crop an image, or they can be more complex, such as analyzing and modifying an image’s color histogram to automatically correct lighting problems in a scene. The applications face some challenges, because image processing operations can be very processor-intensive, especially if the image resolution is high. When combined with limited space for performing operations, mobile image processing tends to require small components that work with optimized algorithms.
More advanced mobile image processing can actually involve real-time adjustments and rendering. This can entail removing motion blurring or centering a photograph that is about to be taken based on objects that are detected in the scene. Other complicated routines can automatically remove red-eye from a portrait or take several images and stitch them together to create a single composite. The premise for developing these types of applications for mobile devices is to remove the need for separate image processing on a larger desktop computer or at a digital studio.
The prevalence of mobile devices that are fully integrated with the ability to seamlessly connect to the Internet also has given rise to a number of possible uses. Object detection and decoding have allowed a device equipped with the correct software to become a barcode reader, with certain codes immediately leading to online websites or product descriptions. Real-time processing of images that are not necessarily still has lead to the development of augmented reality software.
Augmented reality occurs when a device uses mobile image processing to detect either landmarks or other structures within a field of view, sometimes in combination with global positioning coordinates. When used in conjunction with an online server, this enables a device to show images that are not actually present in reality but can be seen after image processing on the device. Some applications for this type of mobile image processing include virtual tours of cities and hidden virtual billboards.