Apple was recently awarded a patent for a multi-point focusing system that integrates with devices capable of multitouch input. This leads to the possibility of pointing to future use of the technology in next-generation iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch.
The awarded U.S. patent No. 2012/0120227 for “multi-point touch focus” describes a system that lets the user of a camera-equipped device select two or more areas of focus on a touchscreen which, when a picture is taken, are passed through a dedicated image processor to produce optimal sharpness and exposure for both regions. The patent background mentions that as he capabilities of automated image capturing progresses, the “possibilities for capturing images not as desired by the photographer” do as well. To solve this issue, Apple proposed a solution that combines multitouch input, live-preview imaging and advanced auto-focusing algorithms and tracking assets. A portion from the patent abstract reads the following:
A camera includes a lens arranged to focus an image on an image sensor and a touch sensitive visual display for freely selecting two or more regions of interest on a live preview image by touch input. An image processor is coupled to the image sensor and the touch sensitive visual display. The image processor displays the live preview image according to the image focused on the image sensor by the lens. The image processor further receives the selection the regions of interest and controls acquisition of the image from the image sensor based on the characteristics of the image in regions that correspond to at least two of the regions of interest on the live preview image. The image processor may optimize sharpness and/or exposure of the image in at least two of the regions of interest. The image processor may track movement of the selected regions of interest.
Apple took quite a giant step forward with the 8MP unit found in the iPhone 4S. They reworked the optics, added a backlit sensor, and also added an inline image signal processor used to create images that many consumers believe to be the best in the smartphone market. It’s unclear whether Apple will implement the newly patented technology in the next-generation iPhone, which is rumored to debut sometime this fall but many are anticipating large improvements in the next iteration of the iconic iOS device.
Source:AppleInsider, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office