They say the eyes have it…
Apple gained some press buzz last week with a new feature that showed up in iOS 13 Beta 3. As reported by The Verge and TechCrunch, there’s a new feature called Attention Correction that works with FaceTime, which is Apple’s video calling app.
I’m less interested in this particular iOS feature, and more interested in future applications for photographers.
When you make a FaceTime call, you’re using a camera that’s at one edge of your device, whether it’s an iPhone or an iPad. This often leads to a situation where you make a call, but instead of your eyes looking at the camera, you’ll have them elsewhere on the screen, which means that the person on the other end of your call will see you looking slightly away from the camera rather than making “eye contact” as it were. The attention correction feature uses Apple’s ARKit to “correct” the caller’s eye position and make it appear that they’re looking at the camera.
So yes, this is an interesting feature. Initial thoughts are that it’s a bit weird, but most new technology seems a bit weird, right? Yes, it’s altering what you are seeing in realtime1.
Let’s talk about the eyes as photographers. When we look at portraiture, whether it’s a headshot or a family group or a senior portrait, the eyes are a critical element. An otherwise-great image can be ruined by eyes that are out of focus or inadvertently looking away from the lens. Folks spend a nontrivial amount of time in post-processing getting the eyes just right.
We’re now seeing AI being used to fix eye problems, whether it’s Apple with the attention correction feature, or the ability to “fix” blinking eyes as revealed by Facebook last year.
Can we imagine a future where we shoot a few group images, and don’t have to worry about head or eye swaps? A world where we don’t have to spend a bunch of time in Photoshop touching up the eyes, because the software and hardware has become so solid that what we get straight from the camera (or the smartphone) is already touched up, automatically?
Like all advances in technology, early iterations might be a little rough, but will get better over time. The eyes are a tiny part of one’s body, but play a disproportionately large role in portraiture. Can technology help? It can, and I look forward to seeing it in action.
- If the camera adds ten pounds, what if the camera could also take off ten pounds? But I digress… ↩