Physically Distant Group Selfies: Just What We Need

Physically Distant Group Selfies: Just What We Need

Given the current era of physical distancing, how am I ever going to manage a group selfie with my friends?

Apple Inc.'s patent for Generating Synthetic Group Selfies may be just the ticket. Apple originally applied for this patent way back in July of 2018, but the process seems to have attracted new attention in an age where we can't really stand shoulder to shoulder, smiling for the birdie.

Basically, this process will allow software to capture or obtain a number of single selfies from different sources or devices and then arrange the disparate selfies into a single group shot. The process will allow users to rearrange the composition of the final group image to suit their tastes if perhaps they don't like being in the back row.

Apple's Generating Synthetic Group Selfies flowchart.

Looking through the patent, it seems Apple even intends to use their technology to create synthetic group videos as well — with sound!

Overall, this all seems like a pretty basic form of post-processing that has been somewhat automated. I'm curious if there are any patent lawyers who might want to weigh in on the patent process for ubiquitous coding tasks. Is this patent defensible? It doesn't seem to be transformative to me, but then again, I'm neither a coder nor a U.S. patent lawyer.

It's been reported that Apple was granted its patent on June 2, 2020. Perfect timing. Popular stats show that there are hundreds of millions of selfies taken a day. Staggering. I'm assuming that stay-at-home orders have only increased this number.

Apple's Generating Synthetic Group Selfies interface.

Call me jaded, but I feel we need more software around selfies like we need another, well, um, selfie.

​​​All images from patent US 10,672,167 B2

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13 Comments

Rhonald Rose's picture

Well, general public is going to love it. Now they can take selfie with their kids studying or living somewhere very far.

Mark Dunsmuir's picture

Agreed. I'm curious as to how they will look in practice.

Kawika Lopez's picture

Interesting. The problem is that Apple files a bajillion patents a year just like Canon or Samsung. It rarely indicates actual product development. It wouldn’t surprise me if this never actually happens.

Mark Dunsmuir's picture

Agreed. Especially considering this was filed way back in 2018. What's going on now may encourage them though.

Charles J's picture

Most patents are filed to ensure another party cannot develop something similar and capitalize off of it. I write similar because you can violate a patent by the closeness of design or function.

Kawika Lopez's picture

Isn’t that the definition of a patent?

Charles J's picture

It is. As you said, filing or holding a patent doesn't necessarily mean designs are being applied. There was an original intent behind patents, but it has evolved into a method corporations use to stunt innovation and limit market competition.

Monsanto. Their patents and broad interpretations close nearly all avenues of development and maintain the company's stranglehold on the agricultural industry. To be fair, it's not all about money. All executives and lawyers there require the souls of farmers ground into a fine powder to snort like politician-grade cocaine. Otherwise, they lose their foothold in the earthly realm.

Apple files hundreds of patents per year to remain a tech giant. That's pretty much it. Whatever patents it owns, promising or not doesn't mean anything for consumers.

Cornelius Mouzenidis's picture

I think many people will be happy but to me the future of photography looks ... Well, not so promising.

Boy W Camera's picture

It's here now. I suppose 3-d and video will be next. But for 2-d photography, the future is now.

Boy W Camera's picture

The young artist Picasso was out with a few of his friends. He asked them to pose leaving space for himself. He stepped away and sketched the group. He later drew himself into the group shot. May have been the first distant group selfie.

Mark Dunsmuir's picture

Is this true? Going to look it up now. Great story!

Boy W Camera's picture

I read it here:

https://www.amazon.com/Montmartre-Picasso-Matisse-Birth-Modernist/dp/014...

An excellent book. Glad that interested you.

Mark Dunsmuir's picture

Very cool! Thank you.