To increase brightness without diminishing picture quality, the software applies a similar trick. “Any software can bump up the brightness of a scene,” says Nikola Bozinovic, the company’s CTO. “It just scales the pixel intensity by a factor of two.” The problem is that this also amplifies the noise in the signal, which appears as graininess. MotionDSP’s approach eliminates noise by averaging it out over a number of frames.
Another feature of vReveal is that it can increase the effective number of frames in a video. Many cell phones capture video at a rate of 15 frames per second, but motion doesn’t look smooth to the eye until it’s close to 30 frames per second. By analyzing the motion of objects within multiple frames, the software is able to synthesize frames in between.
Laura Teodosio, cofounder of Salient Stills, notes that the sort of super-resolution technology that MotionDSP offers isn’t groundbreaking. “The thing about super-resolution is that algorithms and techniques really haven’t changed over the past couple of years,” she says.
But Teodosio is intrigued by the attempt to bring super-resolution tools to the consumer market. “I think the challenge for anyone in the consumer space is twofold,” she says. “It’s creating something that’s easy enough for consumers, and second, giving them enough change in their imagery that they’re going to come back and use it again and again.”
If vReveal is successful, MotionDSP’s algorithms could move into other types of software. By the middle of next year, the company plans to open up part of its source code to outside developers, says Varah. This means that a company like Skype could use MotionDSP’s algorithms in its video chat service, improving the quality of the video without requiring extra bandwidth. Additionally, Internet video providers such as YouTube and Hulu could take advantage of the software to bump up quality.