WO2014083052A1 - Apparatus and method for capturing images - Google Patents

Apparatus and method for capturing images Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2014083052A1
WO2014083052A1 PCT/EP2013/074854 EP2013074854W WO2014083052A1 WO 2014083052 A1 WO2014083052 A1 WO 2014083052A1 EP 2013074854 W EP2013074854 W EP 2013074854W WO 2014083052 A1 WO2014083052 A1 WO 2014083052A1
Authority
WO
WIPO (PCT)
Prior art keywords
image
image capturing
user
movement
shutter button
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/EP2013/074854
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Lysa CLAVENNA
Luke MANSFIELD
Fabio FODARO
Original Assignee
Samsung Electronics (Uk) Ltd
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Priority to GB201221340A priority Critical patent/GB2508245A/en
Priority to GB1221340.1 priority
Application filed by Samsung Electronics (Uk) Ltd filed Critical Samsung Electronics (Uk) Ltd
Publication of WO2014083052A1 publication Critical patent/WO2014083052A1/en

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Classifications

    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N5/00Details of television systems
    • H04N5/222Studio circuitry; Studio devices; Studio equipment ; Cameras comprising an electronic image sensor, e.g. digital cameras, video cameras, TV cameras, video cameras, camcorders, webcams, camera modules for embedding in other devices, e.g. mobile phones, computers or vehicles
    • H04N5/225Television cameras ; Cameras comprising an electronic image sensor, e.g. digital cameras, video cameras, camcorders, webcams, camera modules specially adapted for being embedded in other devices, e.g. mobile phones, computers or vehicles
    • H04N5/232Devices for controlling television cameras, e.g. remote control ; Control of cameras comprising an electronic image sensor
    • H04N5/23222Computer-aided capture of images, e.g. transfer from script file into camera, check of taken image quality, advice or proposal for image composition or decision on when to take image
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N5/00Details of television systems
    • H04N5/222Studio circuitry; Studio devices; Studio equipment ; Cameras comprising an electronic image sensor, e.g. digital cameras, video cameras, TV cameras, video cameras, camcorders, webcams, camera modules for embedding in other devices, e.g. mobile phones, computers or vehicles
    • H04N5/225Television cameras ; Cameras comprising an electronic image sensor, e.g. digital cameras, video cameras, camcorders, webcams, camera modules specially adapted for being embedded in other devices, e.g. mobile phones, computers or vehicles
    • H04N5/232Devices for controlling television cameras, e.g. remote control ; Control of cameras comprising an electronic image sensor
    • H04N5/23218Control of camera operation based on recognized objects
    • H04N5/23219Control of camera operation based on recognized objects where the recognized objects include parts of the human body, e.g. human faces, facial parts or facial expressions
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N5/00Details of television systems
    • H04N5/222Studio circuitry; Studio devices; Studio equipment ; Cameras comprising an electronic image sensor, e.g. digital cameras, video cameras, TV cameras, video cameras, camcorders, webcams, camera modules for embedding in other devices, e.g. mobile phones, computers or vehicles
    • H04N5/225Television cameras ; Cameras comprising an electronic image sensor, e.g. digital cameras, video cameras, camcorders, webcams, camera modules specially adapted for being embedded in other devices, e.g. mobile phones, computers or vehicles
    • H04N5/232Devices for controlling television cameras, e.g. remote control ; Control of cameras comprising an electronic image sensor
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N5/00Details of television systems
    • H04N5/222Studio circuitry; Studio devices; Studio equipment ; Cameras comprising an electronic image sensor, e.g. digital cameras, video cameras, TV cameras, video cameras, camcorders, webcams, camera modules for embedding in other devices, e.g. mobile phones, computers or vehicles
    • H04N5/225Television cameras ; Cameras comprising an electronic image sensor, e.g. digital cameras, video cameras, camcorders, webcams, camera modules specially adapted for being embedded in other devices, e.g. mobile phones, computers or vehicles
    • H04N5/232Devices for controlling television cameras, e.g. remote control ; Control of cameras comprising an electronic image sensor
    • H04N5/23248Devices for controlling television cameras, e.g. remote control ; Control of cameras comprising an electronic image sensor for stable pick-up of the scene in spite of camera body vibration
    • H04N5/23251Motion detection
    • H04N5/23258Motion detection based on additional sensors

Abstract

An image capturing device 100 has an image sensor 200 for digitally capturing images and a shutter button 300 for receiving a user input indicative of a user wanting to capture an image. The image capturing device 100 also has a trigger detection unit 400 to detect a trigger condition based on a predetermined movement of the device 100 which is indicative of a user preparing to take a photograph prior to the user input being received by the shutter button 300. As such, the image sensor 200 captures a first image in response to the trigger condition, and a second image subsequent to the first image in response to the shutter button 300 receiving the user input.

Description

Apparatus and Method for Capturing Images Field of the Invention
The present invention relates to an apparatus and method of capturing images. In particular, the present invention relates to an apparatus and method for capturing a series of consecutive images, including images prior to a shutter button of an image capturing device being pressed.
Background of the Invention
Devices having a camera function, such as digital cameras and smartphones, have been developed to digitally capture and store images. Such devices typically have a number of other functions (multifunction device). For example, a smartphone has other functions such as mobile phone, media player, and GPS navigation functions. As a result, when taking photographs using a smartphone, firstly the user typically needs to set the device to a camera mode to perform the camera function. A camera mode is an operating mode of such multifunction device in which the image capturing function (camera function) can be readily performed such that when a camera shutter button is pressed the device takes a photograph. A non-camera mode, on the other hand, is an operating mode of the multifunctional device in which the image capturing function (camera function) cannot be readily performed. A smartphone being idle with a locked screen is a typical example of a non-camera mode.
With such device, setting the device to a camera mode is usually done by selecting the camera menu displayed on the display or by pressing down on a short-cut button (e.g. a shutter button) on the device for a certain period of time. The camera is activated when the camera function is selected in such manner.
Furthermore, once the device is in the camera mode, the user aims the device towards a target (e.g. a child playing) and checks the target image, for example, on the display of the device or through a viewfinder. The user then captures the image by pressing or touching the shutter button. The user input for capturing the image is not limited to pressing of the shutter button. There may by other ways in which the user instructs the camera to capture the image, for example, by voice activation. However, regardless of the actual method of the user input/instruction to capture the image, before pressing the shutter button on the device in order to capture the image he/ she wants, the user needs time to carry out all of the actions mentioned above.
The invention is made in this context.
Summary of the Invention
According to the present invention, there is provided an image capturing device comprising an image sensor for digitally capturing images, a shutter button for receiving a user input indicative of a user wanting to capture an image, and a trigger detection unit configured to detect a trigger condition based on a predetermined movement of the image capturing device, wherein the image sensor is configured to capture a first image in response to the trigger condition being detected by the trigger detection unit, and to capture a second image subsequent to the first image in response to the shutter button receiving the user input.
When a user sees an image he/she wants to capture, his/her image capturing device may not be immediately available before the user. For example, the device may be on a table, or in the user's pocket to begin with. In such circumstances, the user typically undergoes an action of either lifting the device, or setting the device to a camera mode and then lifting the device, from the table or from his/her pocket. After that, the user aims the device towards the target image to take the photograph. However, all of these steps inevitably result in a time delay. That is, a delay of at least a few seconds inevitably occurs from the moment the user decides to take the picture until the actual moment the image is captured (i.e. when the shutter button is pressed). During this time, the image which the user originally wanted to capture may well be missed. For example, if the user wanted to capture the moment of a child smiling, by the time he/ she picks up the device and aims to take the photograph, the child may no longer be smiling. Accordingly, the image sensor may be configured to capture a first image in response to the trigger condition based on a predetermined movement of the image capturing device, wherein the predetermined movement is a movement and/or orientation of the device indicative of a user preparing to take a photograph prior to the user input being received by the shutter button. As a result, the user will not miss the moment he/she originally wanted to capture. In other words, the image capturing device may be configured such that the first image is captured even before receiving any user input/instruction that is intended to capture an image of that moment (i.e. an intentional user input/instruction, such as pressing of a shutter button).
In some embodiments, the predetermined movement is a movement of the device indicative of a user preparing to take a photograph prior to the user input being received by the shutter button. The image capturing device may be configured to preempt the user's intention to capture an image and start capturing the image before the user's instruction/input to capture the image.
In some embodiments, the predetermined movement of the image capturing device includes a substantially upward movement, a substantially upward movement by a predetermined distance, a substantially upward movement at a predetermined speed, a movement resulting in the image capturing device being substantially vertical or upright, a movement resulting in the image capturing device in a landscape or portrait position, or any sequence or combination thereof, prior to the user input being received by the shutter button. In some embodiments, the trigger detection unit comprises an accelerometer arranged to detect a movement of the image capturing device.
In some embodiments, the trigger detection unit comprises a gyroscope arranged to detect a movement of the image capturing device.
In some embodiments, the trigger detection unit comprises a controller configured to determine whether the detected movement of the image capturing device corresponds to the predetermined movement, and a storage unit configured to store information on the predetermined movement.
In some embodiments, the image sensor captures consecutive first images at a predetermined frame rate.
In some embodiments, the image sensor captures the consecutive first images until the user input is received by the shutter button, and the image sensor captures the consecutive first images for a predetermined time after the detection of the trigger condition without the user input being received.
In some embodiments, the image sensor captures a predetermined number of consecutive second images after the user input has been received by the shutter button at a predetermined frame rate.
In some embodiments, the image capturing device further comprises a first memory configured to store the first image in response to the trigger condition being detected, and to store the second image in response to the user input being received by the shutter button, and a second memory configured to receive the first and second images from the first memory in response to the user input being received by the shutter button. In some embodiments, the image capturing device also comprises a display unit for displaying the first and second images stored in the second memory, and enables the user to select at least one image stored in the second memory.
In some embodiments, the image capturing device further comprises a third memory to store the selected image. In some embodiments, the first memory is a type of volatile memory, the second memory is a type of volatile memory or non-volatile memory, and the third memory is a type of non-volatile memory.
In some embodiments, if the user does not select at least one image in the second memory within a predetermined time after the shutter button receives the user input, an image captured at the moment the user input is received by the shutter button is selected to be stored in the third memory.
In some embodiments, the display unit displays an image captured at the moment the user input is received by the shutter button and a graphical user interface controllable by the user to view any of the first and second images stored in the second memory.
In some embodiments, the trigger detection unit also comprises at least one touch- sensitive switch arranged to detect a trigger condition upon the touch-sensitive switch being touched by the user. In some embodiments, the predetermined movement is a movement of the device indicative of a user desiring to take a photograph.
In some embodiments, the predetermined movement is a gesture motion of the image capturing device by the user.
In some embodiments, the gesture motion is user defined.
In some embodiments, the image capturing device also comprises a button controller which activates a button in response to the trigger condition being detected by the trigger detection unit, and on activation the button receives a user input indicative of a user wanting to capture an image, and the image sensor captures the first image in response to the button receiving the user input. In some embodiments, prior to the trigger condition being detected by the trigger detection unit the button has a previous function other than for receiving a user input indicative of a user wanting to capture an image.
In some embodiments, after a predetermined time of the image sensor capturing the image in response to the button receiving the user input has passed, the button (3500) returns to its previous function.
In some embodiments, the button is a hardware button. In some embodiments, the button is a software button displayed on a display of the image capturing device.
According to the present invention, there is provided a method of digitally capturing an image using an image capturing device comprising detecting a trigger condition based on a predetermined movement of the image capturing device, capturing a first image in response to the trigger condition being detected, receiving a user input through a shutter button, and capturing a second image subsequent to the first image in response to the user input received by the shutter button.
Embodiments of the present invention will now be described, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which: Figure 1 illustrates an apparatus for capturing images, according to an embodiment of the present invention.
Figure 2 illustrates a method of capturing images, according to an embodiment of the present invention.
Figure 3 illustrates a method of capturing and storing images, according to an embodiment of the present invention.
Figure 4 illustrates a method of capturing and storing images, according to another embodiment of the present invention.
Figure 5 illustrates a method of viewing the captured images, according to an embodiment of the present invention.
Figures 6A to 6C illustrate an example of viewing and selecting the first and second images, according to an embodiment of the present invention.
Figure 7 illustrates an apparatus for capturing images, according to another
embodiment of the present invention.
Figure 8 illustrates a method of capturing images, according to another embodiment of the present invention.
Detailed Description
Embodiments of the present invention will now be described that is capable of capturing an image before a shutter button of an image capturing device is pressed by a user, for example, by detecting a movement and/or orientation of the device which is indicative of the user preparing to capture an image.
Fig. 1 shows an image capturing device 100 for capturing images, according to an embodiment of the present invention. The image capturing device 100 comprises an image sensor 200 for digitally capturing images, a shutter button 300 for receiving a user input indicative of a user wanting to capture an image, a trigger detection unit 400 for detecting a trigger condition, a memory 500 for storing the captured images, and a display unit 600 for displaying the captured images. The trigger condition is based on a predetermined movement of the device 100. For example, the predetermined movement of the device 100 is a movement that is indicative of the user preparing to take a photograph using the device 100.
Referring to Fig. 2, a method of capturing images using the image capturing device 100 according to the present embodiment shall be described. In this embodiment, it is assumed that the image capturing device 100 is in the camera mode. In step Sio, a trigger condition based on a predetermined movement of the device 100 is detected by the trigger detection unit 400. In other words, if the trigger detection unit 400 detects that the device 100 has undergone a predetermined movement, it determines that a trigger condition has occurred. For example, the predetermined movement is the user lifting the image capturing device 100 from a low position to a higher position. A low position, for example, is a typical waist height of a person, and the high position is the height at which a person typically holds the image capturing device 100 when taking a photograph. In step S20, when a trigger condition has been detected, the image sensor 200 starts to capture a number of consecutive first images. That is, the first image is captured on detection of the trigger condition, without any further input by the user.
The image sensor 200 continues to capture the first images until the shutter button 300 receives a user input. The user input to the shutter button 300 is an action taken by the user that is indicative of the user wanting to capture an image at that moment.
Pressing the shutter button 300 is an example of such action.
In step S30, in response to the shutter button 300 receiving the user input (e.g. when the user presses the shutter button 300), the image sensor 200 captures a second image.
As a result, the image capturing device 100 captures a first image in response to a trigger condition being detected, and continues to capture consecutive first images until the shutter button 300 is pressed. Upon the shutter button 300 being pressed, the image capturing device 100 captures a second image. As such, the image capturing device 100 is configured to initiate the capturing of images in response to a movement of the device 100, rather than in response to the shutter button 300 receiving the user input. That is, the device 100 automatically starts to capture images when the user moves the device into a position that the user typically holds the image capturing device 100 when taking a photograph. Hence, images are captured as the user prepares to press the shutter button to capture an image - i.e. even before the shutter button is pressed. This ensures that the user does not miss any special moment before pressing the shutter button - for example, the moment when the baby is smiling. In effect, the image capturing device 100 is configured to pre-empt that the user will take a photograph using the device 100, and to start capturing images based on such preemptive determination.
In embodiments of the invention, the image capturing device 100 can take various forms. For example, the image capturing device ιοο can be any portable device having a camera, such as a smartphone, a tablet computer, a mobile phone, a digital camera, a personal digital assistant, a notebook computer, or a handheld electronic gaming device. In embodiments of the invention, the image sensor 200 can be any device capable of taking photographs or videos, for example, a digital camera for capturing still image data or a video camera for capturing video image data. The image sensor 200 may capture images at visible wavelengths of light, or at other wavelengths. The image sensor 200 is included in the same body as the image capturing device 100 (e.g. is integrated into a smartphone).
In embodiments of the invention, the shutter button 300 can be any kind of user interface that is capable of receiving user input indicative of a user wanting to capture an image. For example, a shutter button 300 may be a push button on the image capturing device, which the user can press in order to capture an image. However, in other embodiments, the shutter button 300 may be a button displayed on a touchscreen of the image capturing device 100, or any other form of user interface capable of receiving input from the user. The trigger detection unit 400 is a device capable of detecting a movement and/ or orientation of the device 100. For example, the trigger detection unit 400 comprises an accelerometer 410 capable of measuring the proper acceleration of the device 100.
In embodiments of the invention, the accelerometer 410 may be a multi-axis accelerometer capable of detecting magnitude and direction of the proper acceleration as a vector quality, and capable of sensing orientation based on changes in direction of weight, coordinate acceleration, and vibration.
The trigger detection unit 400 is included in the same body as the image capturing device 100 (e.g. is integrated into a smartphone) to detect the movement of the device 100. The trigger detection unit 400 also comprises a controller 420 and a memory storing predetermined movements. The controller 420 determines whether the movement of the image capturing device 100 detected by the accelerometer 410 corresponds to a predetermined movement. The information about the predetermined movements is stored in the memory.
In embodiments of the invention, the predetermined movement can be any movement of the device 100 that is indicative of the user preparing or desiring to take a
photograph using the device 100. As such, any frequently used motions made by the user when taking the device 100 from a resting position to an image capturing position could be considered to be a predetermined movement, with the precise form of the predetermined movement depending on the form and arrangement of the image capturing device 100.
For example, a rising movement resulting from lifting the device 100 from a low position to a high position (e.g. from waist height to chest height) is regarded as a predetermined movement. In embodiments in which the device 100 is a multifunction device (e.g. a smartphone), the user may set the device 100 into a camera mode in one position (e.g. with the screen facing the user, and the camera pointing downwards), and then move the device 100 in a photograph-ready position. This is a common movement made by a user of the smartphone, who typically switches the device from a non-camera mode to a camera mode before directing the camera of the device towards the target. The act of moving the device into the photograph-ready position provides the predetermined movement that acts as the trigger.
In some embodiments of the invention, the predetermined movement may also be any substantially upward movement of the device 100. As such, a user lifting the device 100 is determined as a predetermined movement. Furthermore, the predetermined movement may include a substantially upward movement by a predetermined distance.
For example, the predetermined distance is a range of distances that represents the distance the device 100 typically moves when being lifted by a user preparing to take a photograph (e.g. distance between waist height to chest or head height). The predetermined movement may also include a substantially upward movement at a predetermined speed.
Any movement resulting from the user orientating the device 100 such that the device 100 is held in a substantially upright or vertical position may also be a predetermined movement. Further examples of a predetermined movement include a rotational movement of the device 100 resulting in a landscape or portrait position, or any movement ending up with the device 100 at predetermined range of angles.
Furthermore, a predetermined movement may be any sequence or combination of movements or orientations.
Furthermore, any movement resulting from the user moving or orientating the device 100 to take another photograph after having pressed the shutter button 300 once may also a predetermined movement. For example, a sideways or a horizontal movement of the device which immediately follows the shutter button 300 being pressed is a predetermined movement. As such, if the user presses the shutter button and subsequently aims the device at a different direction to take another photograph, the device 100 will recognise that the user is preparing to capture another image. This will trigger the image sensor 200 to start taking another set of first images. In effect, steps S10 to S40 described above are repeated.
In addition, some devices may be associated with more than one predetermined movement. For example, in some embodiments, a smartphone may be configured to take photographs both in a portrait position and a landscape position. In such embodiments, the trigger detection unit 400 may be configured to detect two predetermined movement, one indicative of the user preparing to take a photograph in the portrait position and the other indicative of the user preparing to take a photograph in the landscape position.
In some embodiments of the invention, the predetermined movement may be a gesture used by the user to indicate a desire to take a picture. For example, the predetermined movement may be a predetermined or pre-stored gesture that the user could make with the device 100. For example, the user could trace out a "C" shape with the device, with the motion of tracing the "C" shape acting as a gesture indicating that the user desired to take a picture. Such gestures could be pre-stored on the device 100, or could be user defined. It will be appreciated that any defined movement of the device 100 could act as a suitable gesture.
In some embodiments of the invention, the memory 500 comprises a buffer 510, an intermediate memory 520, and a permanent memory 530. The buffer 510 may be a type of volatile memory, such as RAM, whilst the permanent memory 530 may be a type of non-volatile memory, such as flash memory, used for mass storage. The intermediate memory 520 is may be either a volatile memory or non-volatile memory. In the present embodiment, the memory 500 is included in the same body as the image capturing device 100. However, in other embodiments the permanent memory 530 and/or the intermediate memory 520 may be separate from the image capturing device 100. Furthermore, in other embodiments of the invention the memory 500 may be configured in different ways.
In some embodiments of the invention, the display unit 600 comprises a display 610 and a user interface 620. The display 610 can be any display capable of reproducing image or video in 2D or 3D, for example, an organic light-emitting diode (OLED) panel, a liquid crystal display (LCD) panel, or a plasma display panel (PDP). The display unit 600 may be a touch screen device comprising a display 610 with a touch-sensitive overlay for user interaction. In the present embodiment, the display unit 600 is included in the same body as the image capturing device (e.g. is integrated into a smartphone). However, in other embodiments the display unit 600 or the display 610 may be separate from the image capturing device 100. Furthermore, in other embodiments of the invention the display unit 600 may be configured in different ways.
Referring now to Fig. 3, a method of capturing and storing images according to another embodiment of the invention will now be described in more detail. In this embodiment, the image capturing device 100 has the features shown in Fig. 1.
In steps S100 and S110, the image capturing device 100 starts capturing first images in response to a trigger condition being detected.
In particular, in step S100, the trigger detection unit 400 is arranged to detect a trigger condition. More specifically, the accelerometer 410 of the trigger detection unit 400 detects the movement of the image capturing device 100, and the controller 420 of the trigger detection unit 400 receives from the accelerometer 410 the information about the movement of the device 100. The controller 420 subsequently determines whether or not the movement of the device 100 corresponds to a predetermined movement.
For example, when the device 100 is lifted by the user from waist height to chest height and subsequently held up in an upright landscape position, the accelerometer 410 detects such movement of the device 100. The detected movement information is then received by the controller 420, which determines whether or not the detected movement is a predetermined movement based on the predetermined movement information stored in a memory of the trigger detection unit 400.
In step S110, a first image is captured in response to a trigger condition. That is, the image sensor 200 captures a first image after a predetermined movement is detected.
As shown in steps S120 and S121, the image captured by the image sensor 200 in response to the trigger condition is stored in a buffer 510. Subsequently, the image sensor 200 continues to capture consecutive first images until either the shutter button 300 receives a user input (Step S140), or until a
predetermined time passes from the detection of the trigger condition without any user input being received by the shutter button (Step S141). For instance, the image sensor 200 continues to capture first images until the user presses the shutter button 300. If, however, the user does not press the shutter button 300 within 20 seconds of the trigger condition being detected, the image sensor 200 stops capturing the first images. The image sensor 200 is configured to capture consecutive images at a predetermined frame rate. In this embodiment, the image sensor 200 is configured to capture consecutive images at a frame rate of 3 frames a second. However, in other
embodiments the image sensor 200 can take consecutive photographs at a frame rate of between 1 frame per second and up to 60 frames per second, or any other suitable frame rate.
Furthermore, in some embodiments, the image sensor 200 is configured to capture consecutive images at a rate determined by the lighting and/or aperture conditions and/or other imaging parameters associated with the image sensor 200. For example, if the lighting conditions are low, the device 100 may determine that a longer exposure time is required, thus selecting a lower frame rate. The captured first images continue to be stored in the buffer 510. In step S120, if the buffer 510 becomes full, the oldest captured first image in the buffer 510 is replaced by the most recently captured first image. In other words, the earliest captured first image in the buffer 510 is deleted to free up buffer space, and the latest first image is then stored in the freed up buffer space instead. Consequently, the image sensor 200 is able to continue capturing the first images and the captured first images are allowed to be continuously stored in the buffer 510. The buffer 510 is capable of storing between 10 to 100 image frames.
The first images continue to be captured and stored in the buffer 510 until the shutter button 300 receives a user input, i.e. until the shutter button 300 is pressed.
However, if the shutter button 300 does not receive a user input within 10 seconds of the predetermined movement being detected by the trigger detection unit 400, as shown in step S142, the image sensor 200 stops capturing first images and the camera function of the device 100 is terminated. Moreover, the first images stored in the buffer 510 are cleared. In effect, if the shutter button 300 is not pressed within a
predetermined time, it is determined that the user did not originally intend to take a photograph. This step ensures that any movement of the device 100 which is mistakenly detected as being a predetermined movement ends the camera function. Furthermore, it also ensures that the camera function ends if the user has changed his mind and has decided not to take a picture. This prevents unnecessary storage of unwanted images.
In step S150, when the shutter button 300 is pressed, the first images captured that are stored in the buffer 510 until that point are moved from the buffer 510 to the intermediate memory 520. That is, the buffer 510 is cleared of first images that were captured and stored prior to the shutter button 300 being pressed.
In step S160, after the shutter button 300 has been pressed, the image sensor 200 captures a second image. The captured second image is then stored in the cleared buffer 510 (Step S170). At this point, the second image corresponds to the image captured at the moment the shutter button 300 is pressed.
In this embodiment, the image sensor 200 is configured to capture consecutive second images, and as such, in step S180, the image sensor 200 continues to capture the consecutive second images (Step S160) and store the captured second images in the buffer 510 (Step S170). The consecutive second images continue to be captured until a predetermined number of images have been stored in the buffer 510. For example, 10 second images are captured and stored in the buffer 510 after the shutter button 300 has been pressed. The image sensor 200 is configured to capture the consecutive second images at a predetermined frame rate, as for the first images discussed above. In step S190, once the image sensor 200 has finished capturing and storing the predetermined number of second images after the shutter button 300 has been pressed, the second images stored in the buffer 510 are moved to the intermediate memory 520.
Hence, in the above mentioned embodiment, the device 100 captures first and second images using the buffer 510, with the buffer being cleared once the shutter button 300 has been pressed. Once the first and second images are stored in the intermediate memory 520, the user can browse the first and second images, as discussed below.
A method of capturing and storing images according to another embodiment is illustrated by the flowchart shown in Fig. 4.
In this embodiment, when the shutter button 300 is pressed, the image sensor 200 captures the second image at the moment the shutter button 300 is pressed and continues to capture consecutive second images after the shutter button 300 has been pressed, without clearing the buffer 510. That is, the second images captured after the shutter button 300 is pressed continue to be stored in the buffer 510 along with the first images captured before the shutter button 300 was pressed.
Referring now to Fig. 4, steps S200 to S240 shown are identical to steps S100 to S140 shown in Fig. 3. In other words, the steps leading up to and including the shutter button 300 being pressed are same as those in the previous embodiment illustrated in Fig. 3·
In step S250, if the shutter button 300 has been pressed, the image sensor 200 captures the second image, including the image captured at the moment the shutter button 300 is pressed. However, in this embodiment, the buffer 510 is not cleared upon the shutter button 300 being pressed. That is, the first images captured and stored prior to the shutter button 300 being pressed continue to be stored in the buffer 510 after the shutter button 300 has been pressed. In effect, the second images are stored in the buffer 510 along with the first images (Step S271). In steps S260 and S270, if the buffer 510 becomes full, the oldest first image in the buffer 510 (before the shutter button 300 had been pressed) is deleted and replaced with the most recent second image captured (after the shutter button 300 has been pressed).
The image sensor 200 continues to capture the second images until a predetermined number of second images (after the shutter button has been pressed) are captured and stored in the buffer 510. However, in this embodiment, in order to ensure that adequate number of first images captured before the shutter button 300 was pressed remain available for selection - i.e. to ensure that the first images captured before the shutter button 300 was pressed are not completely replaced with the second images captured after the shutter button 300 is pressed - the number of second images captured and stored in the buffer 510 after the shutter button 300 receives the user input is limited to half of the total number of images that can be stored in the buffer 510 at any one time. This ensures that the number of second images captured after the shutter button 300 receives the user input does not exceed the number of first images stored in the buffer 510.
In step S280, the image sensor 200 continues to capture the second images (Step S250) and store the captured second images in the buffer 510 (Step S271) until a
predetermined number of second images have been stored in the buffer 510. For example, 5 second images are captured and stored in the buffer 510 after the shutter button 300 is pressed. In step S290, once the image sensor 200 has finished capturing and storing the predetermined number of second images after the shutter button 300 has been pressed, the first and second images stored in the buffer 510 are moved to an intermediate memory 520. The image captured at the moment the shutter button 300 is pressed is never automatically deleted.
Although embodiments of the present invention have been described in the assumption that the image capturing device 100 is in the camera mode before when trigger condition is detected, in other embodiments, the image capturing device may be in a non-camera mode before the trigger condition is detected. In such embodiments, in response to the trigger condition being detected, the device may switch to the camera mode before the image sensor starts capturing the first images.
Referring now to Fig. 5, a method of displaying the captured images and selecting the image for permanent storage according to an embodiment of the invention shall now be described.
In step 300, the first and second images are stored in the intermediate memory 520 following the capture of a predetermined number of second images by the image sensor 200. For example, the first and second images could be stored in the intermediate memory 520 according to the method of Fig. 3 or 4, or alternative methods.
In step S310, if an auto-playback function of the device 100 is turned on, the captured image(s) is/are shown on the display 610 without any input from the user (Step S330). In effect, the auto-playback function enables the user to view the image captured by the image sensor 200 immediately after the user has taken the photograph, without the user having to manually select the playback function.
In step S320, if the auto-playback function is not active (or if such a function is not present in the device 100), the device 100 waits to see if the user manually selects the playback function within a predetermined time of the shutter button 300 being pressed. For example, the device 100 may wait 7 days for the user to select manual playback. In step S321, if the manual selection of playback is not made within the predetermined time (e.g. 30 seconds of the shutter button 300 being pressed), the image captured at the moment the shutter button 300 was pressed is automatically selected as the image to be permanently stored in the permanent memory 530. In other words, the second image corresponding to the shutter press is selected and transferred to the permanent memory 530. All other first and second images that were stored are then deleted. In this embodiment, this automatic selection of the second image corresponding to the shutter press prevents unwanted images from being stored.
In step S330, after the manual selection of playback, the captured images are viewed by the user on the display 610. The playback function is similar to that of a conventional digital image capturing device to the extent that images which are stored in the permanent memory can be viewed by the user on the display. As such, the image captured at the moment the shutter button 300 was pressed may be displayed on the display 610, along with other images which are stored in the permanent memory 530. The image captured at the moment the shutter button 300 was pressed may be shown on the display 610 with an indicator that indicates to the user the availability of images before and after the shutter button 300 being pressed (Step S330).
Referring now to Figs. 6A, 6B and 6C, the process of how the user selects the image that he/ she wants to permanently store according to one embodiment of the invention shall now be described.
As shown in Fig. 6A, in the playback mode, the image captured at the moment the shutter button 300 was pressed is displayed on the display 610. However, such image is displayed together with an indicator 630 which indicates to the user that the first and second images taken moments before and after the shutter button 300 was pressed are also available for viewing.
If the indicator 630 is selected by the user, a control icon 640, for example a seek slider, appears on the display 610 as shown in Fig. 6B. The user may control and move the control icon to find and view images preceding and/or succeeding the image captured at the moment the shutter button 300 was pressed (i.e. the first and second images). Consequently, when the indicator 630 is selected by the user, the first and second images stored in the intermediate memory 520 become accessible and viewable by the user, and the control icon 640 enables the user to view and search all of the images which are stored in the intermediate memory 520.
The user selects an image he/she wishes to keep by selecting a confirmation button 650 displayed on the display 610, as shown in Fig. 6C (Step S340).
In step S350, once an image is selected, the selected image is moved from the intermediate memory 520 to the permanent memory 530.
If, however, in step S340, no such selection is made by the user and a predetermined time frame has passed (e.g. 2 weeks in this embodiment) or memory space is becoming an issue, it is assumed that the user is happy with the image captured at the moment the shutter button 300 was pressed. Consequently, the image captured at the moment the shutter button 300 was pressed is automatically selected as the image to be permanently stored, and is thus moved from the intermediate memory 520 to the permanent memory 530.
Once an image has been moved from the intermediate memory 520 to the permanent memory 530, that image is viewable in the playback mode together with other images that may be stored in the permanent memory 530. Accordingly, the present invention allows a user to easily find and view the image that precede and succeed the image captured at the moment the shutter button was pressed, thereby greatly decreasing the probability of missing the moment the user wanted to capture in the first place. Referring now to Figs. 7 and 8, a method of capturing images using an image capturing device according to another embodiment will now be described.
Fig. 7 shows an image capturing device 1000 for capturing images, according to an embodiment of the present invention. The image capturing device 1000 comprises an image sensor 2000 for digitally capturing images, a shutter button 3000, a mode button 3500, a trigger detection unit 4000 for detecting a trigger condition, a button controller 7000 for controlling activation of the button 3000, a memory 5000 for storing captured images, and a display unit 6000 for displaying the captured images. The trigger condition is based on a predetermined movement, which in turn, is a movement of the device 1000 that is indicative of the user preparing to take a photograph using the device 1000.
The image capturing device 1000, the image sensor 2000, and the trigger detection unit 4000 are the same type of image capturing device, image sensor and trigger detection unit, respectively, described in respect of the embodiments relating to Fig. 1.
Referring to Fig. 8, in step S1000, a trigger condition based on a predetermined movement is detected by the trigger detection unit 4000. That is, if the trigger detection unit 4000 detects that the image capturing device 1000 has undergone a predetermined movement, it determines that a trigger condition has occurred. In step S2000, when a trigger condition has been detected, the mode button 3500 is activated. In this embodiment, the mode button 3500 is a user interface that is capable of receiving an input from the user. For example, the mode button 3500 could be a button or an area displayed on a touch-screen of the image capturing device 1000. As such, the mode button 3500 being activated means that an on-screen button/ area is displayed on the touch-screen of the image capturing device 1000. The button controller 7000 is configured to activate the mode button 3500 in response to the trigger condition being detected by the trigger detection unit 4000. On activation, the mode button 3500 is configured to receive a user input indicative of a user wanting to switch the device from a non-camera operating mode to a camera operating mode. In other words, the activated mode button 3500 is configured to switch the device 1000 from a non-camera mode to a camera mode. For example, the device 1000 being idle with a locked screen is an example of a non-camera mode (i.e. a mode in which the camera function cannot be operated).
The activated mode button 3500 effectively becomes a short-cut key for putting the device 1000 into a mode in which the camera function can be performed. For example, if the user lifts the device 1000 to take a photograph and such movement is detected as a predetermined movement, an on-screen button appears on the touch-screen display of the device 1000. As a result, it is easier and quicker for the user to switch to a camera mode to perform the camera function since there is no need for the user to scroll through menu to put the device 1000 into the camera mode. In other words, the device 1000 automatically determines that the user may want to switch to camera mode, and all the user needs to do is to confirm this by pressing the activated mode button 3500. In this regard, in step S3000, once the mode button 3500 has been activated, the image capturing device 1000 awaits any subsequent input by the user. Specifically, in step S4000, if the activated mode button 3500 is pressed by the user within a predetermined time of the mode button 3500 being activated, the device 1000 is configured to switch to a camera mode. As a result, if the image capturing device 1000 is in a mode other than a camera mode, the image capturing device 1000 is put into a camera mode in response to the mode button 3500 being pressed.
As such, there is no need for the user to search and select a particular menu for switching to a camera mode. The device automatically detects that the user wants to switch to a camera mode, and the user only needs to confirm that this is the case by pressing the activated mode button 3500. This provides a convenient short cut for the user.
In response to the switch to the camera mode, in step S5000, the image sensor 2000 is configured to start capturing the first images. In this respect, step S5000 corresponds to step S20 of the embodiment exemplified in Fig. 2.
The image sensor 2000 continues to capture the first images until the shutter button 3000 receives a user input. The user input to the shutter button 3000 is an action taken by a user that is indicative of the user wanting to capture an image at the moment the shutter button 3000 is pressed. The shutter button 3000 could be a further software button provided in the camera mode or a suitable hardware button.
In steps S6000 and S7000, when the user presses the shutter button 300, the image sensor 200 captures the second image. In this respect, steps S6000 and S7000 corresponds to steps S30 and S40, respectively, of the embodiment exemplified in Fig. 2. It will be appreciated that any of the previously mentioned steps with respect to the capturing of first and second images (e.g. those in Figs. 3 and 4) could be applied to embodiments that use such a mode button 3500.
If, however, the activated mode button 3500 is not pressed by the user within the predetermined time, as shown in step S3500, the activated mode button 3500 is deactivated. For example, if the activated mode button 3500 is not pressed within 10 seconds of it being activated, the mode button 3500 is no longer shown the display.
Although in the above described embodiment the mode button 3500 is a button or an area displayed on a touch-screen of the image capturing device 1000, in other embodiments, the mode button 3500 may be a physical button on the image capturing device 1000. In such embodiments, the mode button 3500 being activated means that the push button is put in a state ready to receive a user input such that, when pressed, the user input is received as a valid input. If, however, the mode button 3500 is pressed without being activated, a user input is received as an invalid input. For example, a volume control button on the device 1000 is normally configured to control the speaker volume of the device. However, if the user lifts the device 1000 to take a photograph, such movement could trigger the volume button to be activated as the mode button
3500. In other words, the volume button becomes a short-cut button for switching the device into a camera mode when it becomes activated following the detection of a predetermined movement.
Furthermore, although embodiments of the present invention have been described in relation to a camera, the present invention may be generally applicable to any type of image sensor.
Although embodiments of the present invention have been described in relation to an accelerometer 410, the present invention may be generally applicable to any apparatus suitable for detecting movement of the device, such as a gyroscope.
Although embodiments of the present invention have been described in relation to a shutter button 410 for receiving user input to capture an image, the present invention is not limited to a button as such, and may be generally applicable to any apparatus suitable for receiving user input to capture an image, such as a touch-screen input.
Embodiments of the present invention have been described in which a predetermined number of second images are captured and stored after the shutter button 300 has been pressed. However, in other embodiments, the camera may continue to capture second images after the shutter button has been pressed for a predetermined amount of time. For example, when the shutter button is pressed, the camera may continue to capture second images following that moment for 2 more seconds. The period of time to continue capturing second images following the shutter button being pressed may be varied, for example, between o to 10 seconds. The frame rate may also be varied, depending upon shutter button activity or lighting conditions, for example, from 1 frames per second to 60 frames per second.
In other embodiments, only 1 second image may be captured upon the shutter button has been pressed. Furthermore, in another embodiment, the number of second images captured after the shutter button 300 is pressed may be dependent on the type of user input received by the shutter button 300. For example, if the user presses the shutter button 300 twice in quick succession (double-clicks the shutter button 300), the result will be displayed as two time-capture images which will reflect the input received by the shutter button 300. This may be done by using the image sensor 200 to capture more second images (e.g. 20 second images) than normal (i.e. when the user presses the shutter button 300 once, and the image sensor 200 captures 10 second images thereafter) and displaying the divided series as two time-capture images. The determination between the display of a series of time-capture images and a series of single frame images will be determined by the time elapsed between shutter button presses.
Embodiments of the present invention have been described in which the buffer 510 and the intermediate memory 520 are volatile memory, and the permanent memory 530 is a non-volatile memory. However, in other embodiments, each of the buffer, the intermediate memory and the permanent memory may be a part of one memory which may be volatile or non-volatile memory. Furthermore, each one of the buffer, the intermediate memory and the permanent memory may be volatile or non-volatile memory.
Although embodiments of the present invention have been described in relation to a playback mode as shown in Figs. 6A to 6C, the present invention may be generally applicable to any display method and/or user interaction that is suitable for the user to view and select an image from among the stored images. For example, when the user selects a playback function, all of the images currently stored in the intermediate memory may be displayed on a display. If 10 images were captured before the shutter button was pressed, and 10 images were captured on or after the shutter was pressed, a total of 20 images may be stored in the intermediate memory. In that case, all 20 images are shown on the display when the user selects the indicator button 630 during playback. Furthermore, in other embodiments, the images in the intermediate memory may be displayed and arranged in a timeline format. In the timeline format, the images in the intermediate memory are displayed in order of time. For example, the earliest image captured (i.e. the oldest image) may be shown on the far left of the display, and the subsequent images displayed to the right side of that image, thereby enabling the user to scroll through the images. Embodiments of the present invention have been described in which the playback mode is performed as shown in Figs. 6A to 6C. However, in other embodiments, playback mode may be automatically entered into after the images have been captured if the user presses the shutter button multiple times in succession. For example, when pressing the shutter button to capture an image, if the user presses the shutter button three times in succession (e.g. within 2 seconds), the device will automatically go into playback mode after the image capturing process has been carried out. Then, in the playback mode, three images from the first and second images stored in the second memory are displayed. The user can then select the image he/she wishes to store in the third memory. The number of times the shutter button is pressed may correspond to the number of images that displayed. For example, if the shutter button is pressed twice, one first image captured before the shutter being pressed and one second image capture at the moment the shutter button is first pressed are displayed for selection by the user. The user then selects which image he/ she wishes to keep.
Whilst certain embodiments of the present invention have been described above, the skilled person will understand that many variations and modifications are possible without departing from the scope of the invention as defined by the accompanying claims.

Claims

Claims
1. An image capturing device (100, 1000) comprising:
an image sensor (200, 2000) for digitally capturing images;
a shutter button (300, 3000) for receiving a user input indicative of a user wanting to capture an image; and
a trigger detection unit (400, 4000) configured to detect a trigger condition based on a predetermined movement of the image capturing device (100, 1000),
wherein the image sensor (200, 2000) is configured to capture a first image in response to the trigger condition being detected by the trigger detection unit (400, 4000), and
to capture a second image subsequent to the first image in response to the shutter button (300, 3000) receiving the user input.
2. The image capturing device of claim 1, wherein the predetermined movement is a movement of the device (100, 1000) indicative of a user preparing to take a photograph prior to the user input being received by the shutter button (300, 3000).
3. The image capturing device of any one of the preceding claims, wherein the predetermined movement of the image capturing device (100, 1000) includes a substantially upward movement, a substantially upward movement by a predetermined distance, a substantially upward movement at a predetermined speed, a movement resulting in the image capturing device being substantially vertical or upright, a movement resulting in the image capturing device in a landscape or portrait position, or any sequence or combination thereof, prior to the user input being received by the shutter button (300, 3000).
4. The image capturing device of any one of the preceding claims, wherein the trigger detection unit (400, 4000) comprises an accelerometer (410) arranged to detect a movement of the image capturing device.
5. The image capturing device of any one of the preceding claims, wherein the trigger detection unit (400, 4000) comprises a gyroscope arranged to detect a movement of the image capturing device.
6. The image capturing device of any one of the preceding claims, wherein the trigger detection unit (400, 4000) comprises:
a controller (420) configured to determine whether the detected movement of the image capturing device corresponds to the predetermined movement; and
a storage unit configured to store information on the predetermined movement.
7. The image capturing device of any of the preceding claims, wherein the image sensor (200, 2000) is configured to capture consecutive first images at a
predetermined frame rate.
8. The image capturing device of claim 7, wherein the image sensor (200, 2000) is configured to capture the consecutive first images until the user input is received by the shutter button (300, 3000), and
wherein the image sensor (200, 2000) is configured to capture the consecutive first images for a predetermined time after the detection of the trigger condition without the user input being received.
9. The image capturing device of any one of the preceding claims, wherein the image sensor (200, 2000) is configured to capture a predetermined number of consecutive second images after the user input has been received by the shutter button (300, 3000) at a predetermined frame rate.
10. The image capturing device of any one of the preceding claims, the image capturing device further comprising:
a first memory (510) configured to store the first image in response to the trigger condition being detected, and to store the second image in response to the user input being received by the shutter button (300); and
a second memory (520) configured to receive the first and second images from the first memory in response to the user input being received by the shutter button.
11. The image capturing device of claim 10, the image capturing device further comprising a display unit (600, 6000) for displaying the first and second images stored in the second memory (520), and configured to enable the user to select at least one image stored in the second memory.
12. The image capturing device of claim 10 or 11, the image capturing device further comprising a third memory (530) configured to store the selected image,
wherein the first memory is a type of volatile memory, the second memory is a type of volatile memory or non-volatile memory, and the third memory is a type of nonvolatile memory.
13. The image capturing device of claim 11 or 12, wherein, if the user does not select at least one image in the second memory within a predetermined time after the shutter button receives the user input, an image captured at the moment the user input is received by the shutter button is selected to be stored in the third memory.
14. The image capturing device of any one of claims 11 to 13, wherein the display unit (600) is configured to display an image captured at the moment the user input is received by the shutter button and a graphical user interface controllable by the user to view any of the first and second images stored in the second memory.
15. The image capturing device of any one of the preceding claims, wherein the trigger detection unit (400) further comprises at least one touch-sensitive switch arranged to detect a trigger condition upon the touch-sensitive switch being touched by the user.
16. The image capturing device of any one of the preceding claims, wherein the predetermined movement is a movement of the device (100, 1000) indicative of a user desiring to take a photograph.
17. The image capturing device of claim 16, wherein the predetermined movement is a gesture motion of the image capturing device (100, 1000) by the user.
18. The image capturing device of claim 17, wherein the gesture motion is user defined.
19. An image capturing device (1000) of any one of the preceding claims, further comprising:
a button controller (7000) configured to activate a button (3500) in response to the trigger condition being detected by the trigger detection unit (4000), wherein on activation the button (3500) is for receiving a user input indicative of a user wanting to capture an image,
wherein the image sensor (2000) is configured to capture the first image in response to the button (3500) receiving the user input.
20. The image capturing device of claim 19, wherein prior to the trigger condition being detected by the trigger detection unit (4000) the button (3500) has a previous function other than for receiving a user input indicative of a user wanting to capture an image.
21. The image capturing device of claim 20, wherein a predetermined time after the image sensor (200) has captured the image in response to the button (3500) receiving the user input, the button (3500) is configured to return to its previous function.
22. The image capturing device of any one of claims 19 to 21, wherein the button (3500) is a hardware button.
23. The image capturing device of any one of claims 19 to 22, wherein the button (3500) is a software button configured to be displayed on a display (6000) of the image capturing device.
24. A method of digitally capturing an image using an image capturing device (100, 1000), the method comprising:
detecting a trigger condition based on a predetermined movement of the image capturing device (100, 1000);
capturing a first image in response to the trigger condition being detected; receiving a user input through a shutter button (300, 3000); and
capturing a second image subsequent to the first image in response to the user input received by the shutter button.
25. The method of claim 24, wherein the predetermined movement is a movement of the image capturing device (100, 1000) indicative of a user preparing to take a photograph prior to the user input being received through the shutter button (300, 3000).
26. The method of claim 24 or 25, wherein the predetermined movement of the image capturing device (100, 1000) includes a substantially upward movement, a substantially upward movement by a predetermined distance, a substantially upward movement at a predetermined speed, a movement resulting in the image capturing device being substantially vertical or upright, a movement resulting in the image capturing device in a landscape or portrait position, or any sequence or combination thereof, prior to the user input being received by the shutter button (300, 3000).
27. The method of claim 24 or 25, wherein the predetermined movement is a gesture motion of the image capturing device (100, 1000) defined by the user.
PCT/EP2013/074854 2012-11-27 2013-11-27 Apparatus and method for capturing images WO2014083052A1 (en)

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