Patent number 8,970,726 is titled IMAGE SENSOR DATA COMPRESSION AND DSP DECOMPRESSION, and relates to a method of decompressing image data as well as a related digital signal processor (DSP). Any company making, using or selling goods or services making use of similar technology would be at risk of patent infringement, according to Seeking Alpha.
GoPro: professional technology for amateurs
The GoPro technology covered in the patent is something that make digital cameras better, and it seems that many brands could or should implement the technology.
Almost any arrangement in which an image sensor generates compressed image pixel data, before decompressing it, re-combining it into combined pixel data and then compressing it into a digital image format before outputting it is covered by the patent.
Generating compressed image data before it leaves the image sensor relieves the bottleneck created by the transfer of image data from the sensor to the DSP, as well as saving on power consumption.
The technology allows for the capturing of high quality photos and videos without requiring large amounts of power, which would limit some camera configurations. It also allows the transfer of these high quality recordings without requiring the consumer to pay for professional grade equipment.
The patent protects GoPro cameras and the technology which sets them apart from the competition, such as Xiaomi. Many consumers are willing to pay the higher price for a GoPro because of this very technology.
According to Seeking Alpha, the patent is a strong one, because it was passed without any problems by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The patent was filed less than a year ago.
However the speed with which the patent was passed does not mean that the USPTO did not examine it thoroughly. Another reason for the strength of the patent is that USPTO examined previous technology and still passed the patent for GoPro, and analysts say that it is hard to envision the patent being invalidated.
GoPro now has a family of related patents which strengthens its grip on the technology. It is not known whether GoPro intends to block competitors from using the technology or license it to them, but it could make the company more attractive to potential buyers.