Take Pictures. Further
Kodak Research and Development
  R&D Main > Archives: Technology & Product Highlights > Kodak Perfect Touch Processing (Sept 2003)

Archive System 2003 Title
Kodak Perfect Touch Processing: Making Photographs Picture-Perfect

Advances in camera design can compensate for some of our photography flubs, but not all of them. From auto-focus to fancy flashes, these features are intended to prevent less-than-picture-perfect results. What most people do not appreciate is that photo processing makes a big difference in how their photos turn out.

From years of research in consumer picture taking and printing systems, Eastman Kodak Company created a digital photo processing system called Kodak Perfect Touch processing, which uses proprietary software to automatically correct for common image flaws and "mistakes," such as dark shadows, backlighting and soon -- red-eye. Kodak Perfect Touch processing also enhances the desirable qualities of photos, for more vibrant color and richer detail than regular processing.

Kodak Perfect Touch technology processes photos in three steps: First, film is developed in the conventional fashion, and scanned to convert the images to digital files. Next, those files are processed by software that reads and analyzes image content, corrects and enhances it, and readies it for printing. Finally, image data is sent to a high-speed digital printer for output to paper, or it is packaged into files for Kodak Picture CDs, or prepared for uploading to the Internet.

Sophisticated software algorithms - procedures based on mathematical formulas - control the action of sensors that scan the image data. They also analyze and correct image data, and direct the lasers that write the data onto paper. In concert, these algorithms orchestrate Kodak Perfect Touch processing software and hardware at every stage, to produce great pictures. Here's how:

1. Scanning: Images are captured by Kodak sensors as red, blue and green elements of data. Kodak algorithms precisely control the motion of the film as it passes the sensor to give a distortion-free image.

2. Image Processing: High-speed algorithms that operate sequentially and together analyze film order characteristics and scene content of each image, to automatically determine the best image enhancement in terms of color accuracy and density balance (overall lightness or darkness). They also bring out detail in the shadow and highlight areas, and optimize sharpness level. In fact, algorithms offer control over each pixel in an image, which is typically scanned at 4.5 million pixels, as well as 4,000 gradations of color and density.

3. Printing: Red, green and blue lasers that write the image to paper are triggered in an orderly fashion, and printer software algorithms adjust the lasers' action for the best results according to type of paper and its reactive properties to light. Even this level of control is crucial to consistently produce high-quality output, since different papers respond uniquely to light.

Whether you over- or under-exposed a picture because your flash was too close to your subject or you used the wrong film speed; whether snow glare outshone the kids' smiles or the cabana shaded your best friend too well, Kodak Perfect Touch technology digitizes and adjusts image content to produce color, sharpness and detail in prints.

Soon, Kodak Perfect Touch processing will detect and reduce most instances of red-eye, too. Advanced software algorithms automatically locate and distinguish red-eye within an image, without any type of manual intervention. A series of complex operations begins with detection of flesh tones, followed by analysis of shapes of flesh tones to determine semblance of a face. This means the software must be able to distinguish faces-like image areas in many shapes, sizes, and positions, whether close together - when the bride kisses the groom - or next to other areas of flesh tones, as in a "dogpile" of football players on the field.

Next, Kodak Perfect Touch processing software calculates and maps the probability that the presence of red dots might be eyes - and determines the likelihood of an instance of red-eye. Then, the system corrects the phenomenon, not simply by darkening the offending area, but by altering the red areas in a natural and pleasing way. The area that is corrected is carefully defined so that only the pupil, not the iris, is changed.

Years of Kodak research confirm that red-eye is one of the top problems that consumers want corrected in their pictures. Most recently, nine out of ten people surveyed said they would switch photo processing outlets to get red-eye reduction. The great news for photographers, experienced or not: Starting this fall, any photo order requesting Kodak Perfect Touch processing service will include red-eye reduction—and deliver the color, detail and sharpness that you want to remember.