Apple Acquires UK Startup Spectral Edge to Improve iPhone Photography

Spectral Edge Logo

According to Bloomberg, Apple has acquired UK startup, Spectral Edge, in what appears will further bolster photo taking on the iPhone:

According to filings made public in the U.K. on Thursday, Apple corporate lawyer Peter Denwood was recently named a director of Cambridge, U.K.-based Spectral Edge Ltd., while the startup’s other advisers and board members were terminated.

The documents show that Apple now controls Spectral. Similar filings in the past have revealed other startup acquisitions by the Cupertino, California-based tech giant, such as the purchase of digital marketing startup DataTiger earlier this year.

Spectral Edge leverages machine learning to improve photography, resulting in more vivid and crisper photos. The company’s technology improves a photo by leveraging an infrared photo, blended with a standard image to improve the final shot.

Back in 2016, the company detailed its camera software technology to TechCrunch.

“It’s bringing extra detail into the picture that you can’t necessarily see with a normal camera. Because infrared penetrates through mist and fog much better than visible light. And so when you have a picture with a little bit of mist, little bit of fog you get a much more stunning effect,” said MD Christopher Cytera.

“The secret sauce is being able to combine… the infrared with the visible light picture in a way that’s pleasing,” added Cytera. “There’s been other techniques to combine the two in the past but they don’t end up with pictures that are nice to look at.”

Spectral was licensing its IP to smartphone makers but now it appears Apple owns its patent portfolio. The UK startup also has a colour filter technology called Vividteq, which brings HDR-like video quality to existing TVs, geared towards the broadcast industry.

Apple’s latest iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro gained extra cameras this year, with the latter now utilizing three rear lenses on the back. Future iPhones in 2020 are said to include a 3D camera for better photos, leveraging depth sensing, while also allowing for augmented reality applications.