While software exists to manually "fix" digital image problems, it requires time and a skilled craftsman. In the late 1990's, Xerox, which boasts some of the world's top scientists in the fields of digital imaging and colour science, took up the challenge of developing a system that could automatically correct imperfect images without damaging good ones. The solution developed by its researchers is Automatic Image Enhancement technology, or AIE, which has automated colour correction in Xerox systems.
The basic AIE algorithms significantly enhance pictures – brightening underexposed images, sharpening blurred prints, or burning the haze off holiday images to let the bright colours shine through. When originally introduced, AIE corrected the most common amateur photography mistakes.
AIE technology can be applied in the print driver on the user's computer, as a pre-press service, or within printer software itself. In all cases, it analyses the image and, if needed, develops a custom prescription of image processing elements and applies it to the image.
Found only in Xerox digital systems, ranging from desktop colour laser printers to 54-inch-wide colour printers/plotters, AIE has just been added to the latest version of Xerox FreeFlow Process Manager software, which is part of Xerox's FreeFlow Digital Workflow Collection for commercial print providers. In this latest version, AIE not only fixes contrast in sections of photos but also includes features relevant to commercial printers who want to be able to fine-tune electronic images in portable document format workflows.Specifically, the new version includes:
- Local Contrast Enhancement. Until now, AIE algorithms were applied to the entire image, making it lighter or darker, or adding or reducing contrast.But a common problem with photographs is "poor lighting," where only a section of an image is too dark or too light because of back lighting, combined indoor/outdoor scenes, strong shadows or flash photography. For cases where there is a problem in only a portion of the photo, scientists at the Xerox Research Centre Europe, the company's research and development facility in Grenoble, France, have developed a patented solution based on a combination of heuristic and machine learning approaches. The new technology is very fast and can automatically optimise an image's exposure region-by-region. It employs a "decision mechanism" to anticipate the effect of the enhancement and will only make the change when it is sure that the effect will be positive. The success of the algorithm has been validated by extensive user studies.
- Expert Interface. AIE was originally developed as a quick, simple "one-button" solution to improve print quality.For commercial printers who want more control over the appearance of their images, Xerox scientists have added an expert interface that allows print professionals to fine-tune contrast, sharpness, and the lightness and darkness of the print.
- PDF Functionality. In prior implementations, AIE worked on images, which then were inserted in a PDF file for printing.The new version makes AIE convenient for print shop professionals because it manipulates images within the PDF file.
Xerox Innovation At Work
Xerox conducts work in colour science, computing, digital imaging, work practices, electromechanical systems, novel materials, and other disciplines connected to Xerox's expertise in printing and document management. The company consistently builds its inventions into business by embedding them in Xerox products and solutions, using them as the foundation for new business, or licensing or selling them to other entities.For more information, visit www.xerox.com/innovation.
Xerox markets a comprehensive range of Xerox products, solutions and services, as well as associated supplies and software.Its offerings are focused on three main areas: offices from small to large, production print and graphic arts environments, and services that include consulting, systems design and management, and document outsourcing.
Xerox also has manufacturing and logistics operations in Ireland, the UK and Holland, and a research and development facility (Xerox Research Centre Europe) in Grenoble, France.For more information visit, www.xerox.com
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