The recently announced Xiaomi Mi 11 has some impressive features built in, but one of the most intriguing is its new Night Video mode. Built in collaboration with machine learning company BlinkAI, the Night Video mode is designed to help users achieve well-exposed videos in super low-lit conditions.
BlinkAI is a Boston-based company that uses machine learning to improve camera sensor technology. AI features in camera phones have been developing fast over the last few years and this new night mode for video is a huge leap forward.
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AI has been an aspect of smartphone photography for years now, being used to enhance images through lightening, brightening, smoothing, sharpening and more. This is often referred to as computational photography, which is where the smartphone makes lots of micro-adjustments to your image as you're shooting it. This is why a smartphone's raw image file and polished JPEG of the same photo can often look very different.
To achieve this effect, several images will be stacked together to average out the noise and improve detail and sharpness. For stills, this is generally quite easy because you can take multiple images quickly at various exposures and then stack them together. However, it isn't quite as simple when it comes to video. This is because each second will require a minimum of 24 individual frames. This is what makes Xiaomi and BlinkAI's achievement so impressive.
In the video above, you can see how this translates into real world results. When you switch on the AI mode on the phone, the camera is seemingly able to produce a much brighter file. A great deal of detail is recovered from the shadows and the noise in the footage is controlled well too.
As this feature continues to develop it could play a crucial part in closing the gap between camera phones and more dedicated professional systems.