Canon working on AI powered predictive camera control system, patent suggests

Another pretty interesting patent that shows how much Canon is investing in research. Canon patent application US20180077345 discusses a predictive camera control system that takes viewers interests into account, for instance during a sport event.

Such a system is capable to recognise where people in a stadium is looking, what captures their interest most at a given time, and then can adjust its cameras to point in the same direction. A system that learns from user behaviour what gets the most attention by the viewers. This AI powered system (using neural networks) tracks the eyes of the viewers to learn where they are looking at, and is able to recognise which player attracts most looks from viewers. The system’s cameras are then set to capture what captures the interest of the crowd. I guess this may change the rules for future coverage of big sport events (but the system can virtually be used also for other purposes).

From the patent literature:

A computer-implemented method and system of selecting a camera angle is described. The method comprises determining a visual fixation point of a viewer of a scene using eye gaze data from an eye gaze tracking device; detecting, from the eye gaze data, one or more saccades from the visual fixation point of the viewer, the one or more saccades indicating a one or more regions of future interest to the viewer; selecting, based on the detected one or more saccades, a region of the scene; and selecting a camera angle of a camera, the camera capturing video data of the selected region using the selected angle.

[…] A system, comprising: an eye gaze tracking device for detecting eye gaze data of a viewer of a scene; a multi-camera system configured to capture video data of the scene; a memory for storing data and a computer readable medium; and a processor coupled to the memory for executing a computer program, the program having instructions for: detecting, using the eye gaze tracking data, a visual fixation point of the viewer and one or more saccades of the viewer relative to the visual fixation point; determining an object of interest in the scene based on at least the detected one or more saccades of the viewer, the object of interest being determined to have increasing relevance to the viewer of the scene; and selecting a camera of the multi-camera system, the selected camera having a field of view including the determined object of interest in the scene, the second camera capturing video data of the determined object of interest.

US20180077345A1

More Canon patents.

Canon’s next 18-55mm kit lens might have an LCD display, patent suggests

Kit Lens

Canon patent application JP2018005130A, while discussing what appears to be the next iteration of the popular 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS kit lens (Mark III, I guess), reveals an interesting detail: Canon’s next kit lens might have a small LCD display. Something we saw first on the EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II.

The LCD display is visible on one of the patent images, and it’s referenced in the patent literature (it’s 305 in the picture above.

Consider the fact that the inexpensive 18-55mm kit lens virtually comes with every Canon entry level DSLR. Nice bonus for future customers.

Canon Patent to reduce image noise generated by the magnetic field of image stabilisation unit

Canon Patent

Well, this is an interesting Canon patent application we spotted (20180164603), and it shows how much care Canon applies to details.

Some background information first. Simplifying it very much, the image stabilisation system of a lens is build on top of a vibration gyroscope sensor. The process of stabilising an image in the lens occurs through a image (shake) correcting unit. The correcting unit uses electromagnetic fields, generated by applying current to a coil.

The generated electromagnetic fields can influence the electronic circuitry and hence may degrade the image quality by generating noise in the image. Turns out that shielding the coil isn’t that easy.

If I got the patent right, it tries to reduce the magnetic field by clever use of non-magnetically conductive materials and shielding. From the patent literature:

According to one aspect of the present invention, there is provided an imaging lens including: a lens; an image shake correcting action unit provided movably in a direction perpendicular to an optical axis of the lens; a stationary unit for supporting the image shake correcting action unit; a permanent magnet provided on one of the image shake correcting action unit and the stationary unit and a coil provided on an other; a drive circuit for moving the image shake correcting action unit relative to the stationary unit; a mount section for being connected to an imaging unit having an imaging element; and a conductive member which is nonmagnetically conductive and disposed between the coil and the mount section so as to include a facing surface facing a surface formed by a binding wire of the coil and having a larger area than a surface formed by an inner periphery of the coil.

This patent application might go into production one day.

Other Canon patent applications we think might get into production in the next few years are these:

Canon Patent Application to combine Air Sphere and Flourine Coating

Canon Patent Application

Canon patent application US20180148603 discusses how to combine Air Sphere coating with Fluorine coating to further reduce optical artefacts like flare and ghosting. Both techniques are already used in Canon lenses (see video below), though I can’t say if they are used in combination.

From the patent literature.:

A low-refractive-index layer utilizing gaps between particles has a problem that oily matter penetrates and diffuses into voids between particles in the film. The present inventor has found that the contamination that has not been visually recognized at the time of adhesion of the contamination and low-molecular-weight oily matter generated by the adhesion of contaminants diffuse among particles in the low-refractive-index layer to decrease the refractive index, resulting in deterioration in the appearance to a degree that can be visually recognized.

Canon Patent Application for 800mm f/5.6 lens

Canon Patent Application

A Canon patent application (2018-087965) for what might be the future replacement for the Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS lens.

The patent literature describes a lens concept where weight and size are reduced without affecting optical performance or causing increased chromatic aberrations.

Machine translated patent literature excerpt:

The method of using for a part of imaging optical system the diffracted-light faculty which has a diffraction working effect as a method of reducing lens weight is known correcting satisfactorily several aberration including the chromatic aberration of the imaging optical system. The imaging optical system which constituted the front lens group from ** material whose refractive index is higher than a low dispersing material with abnormal portion dispersibility, such as fluorite, and attained size and weight reduction of the whole system is known, using a diffraction working effect and reducing the lens number of sheets of the front lens group which was conventionally required for aberration compensation

There is a lot of buzz around Canon patent applications as of lately, and a lot of misunderstanding too. Bear in mind that a patent application does not mean a company will launch a product anytime soon. A patent application is a way companies have to secure their research and their intellectual property. In this sense, nothing here is a guarantee that the EF 800mm f/5.6L lens will be replaced in the close future.

Some Canon patent applications we think might get into production in the next few years are these:

Canon Patent Application for a 11-440mm f/2.1-4.1 Cinema Zoom lens

Canon Patent Application

Canon patent application (US 20180143412) for what looks like a 11-440mm f/2.1-4.1 Cinema Zoom lens.

From the patent literature:

Conventionally, four-unit zoom lenses are often used as zoom lenses for television cameras because it is relatively easy to achieve a wide angle of view, a high zoom ratio, and size and weight reduction. Such a four-unit zoom lens includes, in order from the object side, a first lens unit having a positive refractive power that does not move for zooming, a second lens unit having a negative refractive power that moves during zooming, a third lens unit for correcting variation in the image plane caused by zooming, and a fourth lens unit having a positive refractive power for imaging.

In recent years, there have been proposed zoom lenses for television cameras including three, four, or more movable units as zooming units with functions as a variator and a compensator.

[…]

Thus, the present invention has an objective to provide a zoom lens including three or more movable units as its zooming units and simultaneously achieving a wide angle of view, a high zooming ratio, size and weight reduction, and particularly high performance in the focal length range from the wide-angle end to the zoom middle position. The present invention also aims to provide an image pickup apparatus having such a zoom lens.

To attain the above objective, a zoom lens according to the present invention includes, in order from an object side to an image side, a first lens unit having a positive refractive power that does not move for zooming, a second lens unit having a negative refractive power that moves during zooming, a third lens unit having a negative refractive power that moves during zooming, a fourth lens unit having a negative refractive power that moves during zooming, and a relay lens unit having a positive refractive power and being located closest to the image side that does not move for zooming. The second lens unit moves to the image side from a wide-angle end to a telephoto end. When a focal length fx determined based on a focal length fw of the zoom lens at the wide-angle end and a zoom ratio Z is fx=fw×Z0.38, the zoom lens satisfies 0.05<L2min/L2w<0.98, where L2min is a minimum distance between the second lens unit and the third lens unit in a zoom range from the wide-angle end to the focal length fx, and L2w is a distance between the second lens unit and the third lens unit at the wide-angle end.

Patent literature is a hard reading. If I got it wrong or if you have additional intel, please feel free to sound off in the comment section.

canon patent application