We saw a number of companies launch apps for video stabilization in the last year — including Instagram’s Hyperlapse for iOS — and Apple brought stabilized video to the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus camera. Now, Imint wants to do something similar for Android phones with the launch of Vidhance Mobile. Before you get too excited, though, it’s worth noting that Imint isn’t launching an Android video app. Instead, the company plans to work with phone manufacturers to integrate its algorithms right into their phones at the operating system level.
It’s worth noting that Sweden-based Imint isn’t some fly-by-night startup. The company has been writing and selling image stabilization and analysis software for military drones since 2007. As the company’ s CEO Andreas Lifvendahl told me during an interview at CES, the company recently decided that it could probably use the tricks it learned from that work (and the patents it got for it) to bring these capabilities to smartphones, too.
As Lifvendahl stressed, most of the current stabilization solutions are more about image stabilization than video stabilization. That means they often can’t handle low-frequency shakiness all that well, for example. Many of the current solution also don’t work in real time. But given that digital video stabilization almost always means you also have to crop part of the image, you can never be quite sure what the final result will look like until the post-processing is finished.
With a real-time solution, you can more easily follow a subject or zoom in and out knowing that the final video will look exactly as intended. At this point, Imint has gotten the latency down to a single frame on a Nexus 5, so you really don’t notice all the hard work the processor is doing in the background.
Imint may be launching at just the right time. Since Apple launched its cinematic video stabilization last year, Android OEMs are clamoring for a similar solution so they can also check that box off on their feature lists (and users are clearly asking for it, too). According to Lifvendahl, the company is already working with at least one (undisclosed) handset manufacturer and the first phones with its software will be available somewhere around Q3 2015.
Real-time video stabilization itself is already pretty cool, but looking ahead, the company plans to build on this platform to launch a number of other features that have previously only been available in its defense-style applications. One of those is auto track-and-zoom that combines video stabilization with object tracking. Typically, that’s used to track a car or a person during drone surveillance, but it comes in quite handy even when you are not trying to fire a Hellfire missile and instead just want to track your kids running around on a soccer field.
Other features the company is working on include on-the-fly cut suggestions (because it knows when you moved the phone the scene probably changed) and adaptive regional contrast enhancements.