It’s been more than two years since the original GoPro Max arrived with the aim of bringing 360 cameras into the mainstream – and some new patent filings suggest that a GoPro Max 2 may finally be on its way to delivering on that initial promise.
The new GoPro patent applications (opens in new tab)which were published by the US Patent and Trademark Office on June 30, contain some detailed descriptions of the kind of 360 camera software tricks a successor to the GoPro Max could be capable of.
While the GoPro Max remains one of the best 360 cameras you can buy, its software skills have lagged behind, like Insta360. But the gist of these patent applications is that GoPro is looking at new software tricks that automatically reshape your 360 footage into standard flat videos, based on AI-powered analysis of what’s happening in the scenes.
The patent application states that it “refers to framing videos based on the context of the videos” and that “determining which parts of the video should be displayed during playback can be difficult and time consuming”. This is the problem that GoPro is apparently looking to solve, with the patent applications including a few different examples of how this might work.
While the apps don’t mention a GoPro Max 2 by name, they do include a top-down image of a 360 camera that looks like the GoPro Max. They also include descriptions of a renderer with a “context component” that can analyze the context of a scene and adjust the “preview window” (what you see during video playback) and final video framing accordingly.
This analysis can apparently include “blur detection, color analysis, face recognition, histogram analysis, object recognition, scene recognition” and more, giving Camera 360 a potentially strong foundation for deciding where you want the camera. be pointed out in your final video.
We’ve seen something similar before with Insta360’s AutoReframe feature, which uses AI to create an automatic edit of your 360 video. GoPro’s patents describe a similar, albeit more powerful, ability that appears to be generated in-camera rather than on the phone. For example, the patents describe a virtual zoom function that could work automatically to frame a person walking to “make the presentation of action within the visual content more interesting and/or enjoyable.”
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Other examples include “automatic panning to provide panoramic views of travel scenes” and a vlog-friendly feature where “the user’s eye tracked in the selfie view can be used to determine where interesting things are happening in the visual content”.
GoPro’s patent applications also describe a useful feature for filming events, which echoes Canon’s AMLOS system, allowing you to simultaneously capture multiple views of a speech or presentation, based on “directional audio and/or voice detection” of who is talking at a given moment.
Of course, these patent applications are not concrete proof that GoPro is working on these concepts or has the technology to execute them. But earlier this year, GoPro said on a conference call that “in late 2022, we plan to increase our hardware offering from the two types of products we have today, Hero and Max, to four distinct camera products.”
With Max still in his plans, it seems increasingly likely that we’ll see an update to that aging 360 camera later this year – and the ideas in these patents could be very welcome party tricks for his impending battle with Insta360.
Review: The case for a GoPro Max 2 grows
By themselves, patent applications are certainly not proof that a product is being developed or closer to launch. But the combination of these ideas and GoPro’s quote earlier this year that Max is one of “four distinct camera products” it hopes to offer by the end of 2022 suggests that a GoPro Max 2 (if that’s what it’s called) would do. a lot of sense as one of their next releases.
The GoPro Max will turn three years old in October and the likes of the Insta360 One X2 have now taken its original concept even further in versatility and usability. While 360 cameras remain relatively niche, their unique ability – allowing you to reframe a video after it has been filmed – has become increasingly popular with YouTubers and solo vloggers.
The original Max was a bit ahead of its time when it launched in October 2019, with its main problem being the lack of automated editing skills and software polishing that we’ve seen more recently on Insta360.
But between those patent filings and GoPro recently updating its Player desktop app for Mac and Windows, the stage seems to be set for a new GoPro Max – hopefully with a bigger sensor and GoPro’s GP2 processor – that could finally offer a version more polished and user friendly. friendly 360º experience that its original pioneer gave us a taste.