Apple's patent applications are always a great source of information on new technologies that the company could be working on.
In a patent application that was made public recently, Apple has described an extremely innovative camera flash system that could be incorporated in future models of the iPhone.
The application titled "ELECTRONIC DEVICE HAVING A CAMERA FLASH REDIRECTOR" talks about a flash redirector system that will target the LED flash on an iPhone to different areas of a scene instead of the current method where light is focused in one fixed direction. According to the document, this can be achieved in two ways. The first method makes use of a moveable lens with a fixed light source that can be used to target flash in any desired direction. Alternately, the flash system could also be incorporated with multiple light sources that are aimed at different parts of a frame and can be selectively illuminated depending on the requirements.
The patent application also describes two different ways to implement the flash redirector system. In the first method, a manual control system similar to the 'tap to focus' feature on the recent versions of the iPhone is described where users may manually indicate the specific areas of a frame by tapping on the touchscreen. Alternately, Apple also describes an automated feature that makes use of artificial intelligence to selectively light up the several flash light sources according to the intensity of ambient light detected across the several sections of a frame.
The technology, if implemented, may become available for both photos and videos. The inventors have indicated that using the technology for videos may be more efficient on the batteries since they may only target the subject of the image.
The purpose of the patent seems to be to improve the quality of the photos taken in low light conditions.
We are excited about the prospects of such a technology on the iPhone or iPod Touch. Considering that the patent application was filed way back in March 2009, we hope that Apple engineers are already in advance stages of development of introducing this feature in the next version of iOS for the the next generation iDevices.
Do you think we will see this new feature on iPhone 5? Let us know what you think in the comments below.