Morpho's software will soon bring high-end camera features to smartphones

Background defocus and image stabilization will ship on smartphones in early 2014

Imaging technology once reserved for high end cameras might be coming to smartphones with new software from Japan's Morpho.

The company has developed an image stabilization system for high-definition video and a background defocus feature for smartphone cameras. Morpho has partnered with device makers and the features should be shipping on smartphones early next year.

See the systems at Mobile World Congress in a video on YouTube.

"We take two pictures with different focus levels and then basically what we try to do is segment the foreground object from the background one," said Kenji Okuma a senior engineer with Morpho, Inc.

He admitted that the system isn't perfect at separating the two images and said that it's most dramatic when the foreground image is close the lens. After the picture is taken users can change the amount of background blur using a slider bar.

Morpho is also working on image stabilization for HD video. As devices continue to get smaller, the amount of shakes and bumps increase. Morpho's system can reduce shakiness significantly in video shot at 30 frames per second. That's significant because a lot of processing power is typically needed to render HD video on the fly.

"What we try to do is calculate the motion between the previous frame and the current frame and try to compensate for that," Okuma said on the show floor of Mobile World Congress.

In order to compensate for the shakiness, the resulting video is cropped about 10 percent.

Okuma wouldn't say exactly which device makers will be using the new systems, but did say several major ones including one from South Korea plan to use it.

Nick Barber covers general technology news in both text and video for IDG News Service. E-mail him at Nick_Barber@idg.com and follow him on Twitter at @nickjb.

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Nick Barber

IDG News Service
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