Mobile photography has a problem with skin tones. Tecno wants to solve it with its Universal Tone technology

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Under the motto “let everyone be in the photo”, Tecno presents the technology that could change portraits forever

Currently, and although there is still a long way to go, we have cell phones that are excellent for both photography and video. We have logarithmic modes, fast focus tracking, increasingly powerful HDR, and RAW modes that allow for a lot of flexibility. Every year we are going more and this 2023 we are having titans like the iPhone 15 Pro, Google Pixel 8 Pro or the Galaxy S23 Ultra.

However, there is something that continues to choke almost everyone (if not everyone). It is about the portrait or, rather, the calculation of skin colors both with a single person and in a group.. That is precisely where Tecno aims with its Universal Tone technology.

Algorithms are biased, even in photographs

Representation is important. It’s something we see every day (more and more) in entertainment media such as series, movies and video games, but in photography the truth is that we are a little behind.

Our Genbeta colleagues already explained it a few years ago, sharing that facial recognition algorithms (used for photo processing) are based on the 1975 Fitzpatrick scale that simplifies all possible shades into just six: four for white skin, one for brown skin and one for black skin.

Clearly, it is insufficient and From Google in recent years they have worked on their algorithms so that facial recognition is better and the most correct tone possible is applied when a human appears in the photograph. In fact, tried that beauty modes and other defendants will pass away.

And yes, progress is seen, but correctly calculating skin tones is very complicated and we continue to see mobile phones that do not capture this tone well. In fact, when we test so many phones we realize some of these errors. Even in my tone, which would be on the list of “simple” for the algorithms, there are times when with the same cell phone I have more magenta or greener photos.

That said, companies are still trying to correct this and Tecno has just presented a technology called Universal Tone. We leave you the presentation video below:

This processing technology is based on three engines (so to speak) driven by artificial intelligence. On the one hand, we would have the multiple skin tone restoration engine which, as the name suggests, analyzes each skin tone and makes small adjustments based on a large database they have been feeding.

The goal is to make algorithmic adjustments to improve accuracy in representing each skin tone. On the other hand, we have the local or environmental adjustment engine. It sounds very ‘magical’, but Tecno claims that its algorithm calculates where the photograph was taken so that the light from the place falls realistically on the skin and, thus, achieves the most realistic tone processing.

 

AND, finally, the computational portrait engine. It is a beauty mode, but instead of being based on the canons of Chinese society (by which the vast majority of beauty modes on mobile phones are based), different parameters are adjusted depending on cultural preferences in different regions.

This last one is the most artificial, but the other two, if they work, They could represent a before and after in the calculation of skin tones both for individual photos and, and here is the interesting thing about this technology, for group photos, since individual analyzes would allow each person to have their tone as correct as possible in the already processed photograph.

We will see how it works when users start testing, but unfortunately we will not see this technology in Spain. At least for the moment, since Tecno belongs to the Transsion group and is breathing air into the mobile marketbut especially in China and Africa.

 

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Mubashir Hassan
Expert in tech and gaming, blending industry insights with expertise