Startup Claims Quantum Leap in Countering Photo "Wobble"

Chip technology has steadily increased the resolution and lowered the cost of digital cameras. But there is an annoying side effect, one that a Silicon Valley startup called InVisage Technologies believes it can eliminate.

The problem–-variously called “wobble,” “Jell-O” and “rolling shutter”–-is a kind of distortion that can occur when photographing moving objects using the cameras that typically come with cellphones. Elements in images that should appear straight can wind up looking bent or slanted. A golf club or baseball bat, for example, might be perfectly straight but appear to bend in a photo of a swing.

This doesn’t happen in cameras with mechanical shutters, which are excluded from cellphones and other applications to reduce cost, size and moving parts that tend to break, says Jess Lee, InVisage’s chief executive. These time-tested components create exposures of images all at once. In cellphone cameras, by contrast, image sensor chips ordinarily record images in a gradual process from top to bottom; as a result, an object in an image may have moved before the process of reading the data is completed, causing the distortion.

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