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DeVry Faculty Explains ...

By Sean Ostruszka


DSP: The Reason Your Selfies Look Good

Think you take too many selfies? You’re not alone.

According to InfoTrends, 1.2 trillion digital photos will be taken in 2017 – that’s 100 billion more than in 2016!

The proliferation of cameras on smart phones is the biggest reason for this increase (digital camera sales plunged 81% from 2010 to 2016), along with the increasing popularity of social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and SnapChat.

But there’s another unsung factor contributing to the rise in selfies: digital signal processing, or DSP.

DSP is the use of digital processing, such as by computers, to perform a wide variety of signal processing operations. And just what does that have to do with cameras and selfies?

“You don’t ever worry about red eye in your photos anymore, do you?” says DeVry professor Saeed Jellouli. “That’s because of DSP.”

The “red-eye effect” used to be a common problem for photographers. It occurred when a camera captured the red light reflecting from the retina at the back of a subject’s eye when the flash was used at night or in dim lighting.

However, thanks to DSP, red eye has gone the way of the dodo. DSP measures, filters and compresses continuous real-world analog signals to improve various tasks or functions. So in the instance of your cell phone’s camera, DSP detects the red light automatically and removes it from your photos. It does the same with autofocus or brightness and contrast in the photo, along with millions or even billions of other functions.

And of course, the better our photos, the more photos we take.

“DSP has basically made it so anyone can be a great photographer,” Jellouli said. “It used to be you needed to know how to use your camera’s settings, lenses’ focus, lighting. All you need is a good subject, now. The rest is done by DSP and computers, and that’s just one example of how DSP and technology affect our daily lives.”

Do you have a DeVry student, faculty or alumnae story to tell? Email Sean Ostruszka at SOstruszka@devry.edu