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FaceTime may eventually be able to ‘hide’ your background during a call

FaceTime on macOS and iOS may eventually be able to “hide” your background during a call. Apple has been granted a patent (number 9,992,450) for “systems and methods for background concealment in a video conferencing session.”

At this week’s Worldwide Developer Conference, Apple announced Group FaceTime, something that’s been requested for a long time. In fact, it will support up to 32 users.

In the patent filing, Apple notes that video conferencing systems such as FaceTime offer a video stream that shows the background behind a user. The tech giant says it’s sometimes desirable to hide or replace the background, such as for security or privacy purposes. 

Yet, distinguishing foreground elements in a video stream (e.g., the user) from other background elements often can be a computationally intense process, one that can’t performed in real time by processing devices such as mobile phones that have limited processing resources. Apple wants to change this.

Here’s the summary of the invention: “A video stream may be captured and provided to a first terminal participating in a video chat session. A background element and a foreground element may be determined in the video stream. A border region may additionally be determined in the video stream. The border region may define a boundary between the foreground element and the background element. The background region may be modified based, at least in part, on video content of the border region. The modified video stream may be transmitted to a second terminal participating in the video conferencing session.

Of course, Apple files for — and is granted — lots of patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Many are for inventions that never see the light of day. However, you never can tell which ones will materialize in a real product.

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Dennis Sellers
the authorDennis Sellers
Dennis Sellers is the editor/publisher of Apple World Today. He’s been an “Apple journalist” since 1995 (starting with the first big Apple news site, MacCentral). He loves to read, run, play sports, and watch movies.