The School of Design and TECNO to collaborate for more inclusive smartphone photography

University of Leeds researchers are partnering with TECNO to ensure people of all skin tones are represented accurately in photographs taken on their mobiles.

The collaboration will be led by Dr Kaida Xiao, Associate Professor in Colour and Imaging Science at the School of Design and the Leeds Institute of Textiles and Colour.

Dr Xiao is also TECNO’s technical advisor on colour science and skin tone image technology.

TECNO is a smartphone company that champions inclusive camera technology. Their collaboration with the School of Design will support them to implement colour science in their multi-skin tone imaging system.

True-to-life portraits

The aim of the project is to strengthen the photographic technology of their smartphones to improve photos taken of people of all skin tones.

Historically, there has been a bias towards lighter skin in technology such as colour calibration and rendering. These would often mean people with darker skin looked overexposed or desaturated in photos.

This collaboration will further improve the current photographic technology to produce true-to-life portraits that are more inclusive for TECNO smartphone users of every skin tone.

Dr Xiao will contribute academic and scientific support, laboratory data and insights from in-depth research on skin tone and colour science.

Further research will be carried out into how technological, psychological and localised experience barriers can be removed from the existing imaging technology.

More inclusive depictions of beauty

On the announcement, Dr Xiao said:

“Our involvement in colour and skin tone research has spanned many years and I’m thrilled that TECNO is joining us to pursue further inclusivity-related research with a shared vision to create more inclusive depictions of beauty.

“Academic research has a major role in meeting the needs of society and through collaborations with leading enterprises like TECNO, we continuously discover new ways of implementing our knowledge.

We are delighted to be partnering with TECNO as their ambitions align perfectly with ours, namely advancing technologies that can enhance people's experience of life and contribute to greater inclusivity.”

Jack Guo, General Manager at TECNO commented:

“TECNO has always seen portrait photography as an important opportunity to promote greater inclusivity in smartphone technology.

“With a consistent dedication to bridge the gap with global emerging markets through better technologies, our goal is to strengthen our technological capabilities in multi-skin tone imaging to better capture the essence of humanity in a way that represents everybody.

“Through our collaboration with the School of Design at University of Leeds, we aim to combine our strengths and use technological innovation to enhance the imaging experience for TECNO customers whoever and wherever they are.”