Apple has won two camera patents covering light source modules with Adjustable Focus & Electronically Adjustable Optical Shutters
Today the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially granted Apple two camera related patents. The first covers light source modules which can emit a diffused beam of light, including, without limitation, advanced flash modules used to illuminate subjects in images captured by a camera device. The second patent covers electronically adjustable optical shutters.
Apple's granted patent covers a light source module with an adjustable light diffusing material positioned relative to one or more illumination elements such that light emitted from the one or more illumination elements is diffused by the adjustable light diffusing material as the light passes through the adjustable light diffusing material.
The light source module may emit a pyramid shaped beam of light with square or rectangular cross-sections and may be configured to project a light pattern that corresponds to a pyramid shaped composite field of view of one or more cameras associated with the light source module.
The composite camera field of view may have rectangular or square shaped cross sections at different distances (e.g. scenes) within the composite camera field of view. The composite field of view may be a combination of a wide-angle field of view of a wide-angle lens system and a telephoto field of view of a telephoto lens system.
For example, a first camera may include a telephoto lens system and a second camera may include a wide-angle lens system, in such embodiments the first and second camera may capture composite images that use some image data from each of the two cameras. In such embodiments a composite field of view of the two cameras may vary based on a level of inclusion of image data from each of the two cameras in a composite image.
Furthermore, the light source module may include or interact with a controller that is configured to adjust a level of diffusion of the adjustable light diffusing material for light emitted from the light source module based, at least in part, on a level of inclusion of a wide-angle lens system field of view or a telephoto lens system field of view in a composite camera field of view.
Apple's patent FIGS. 2A and 2B below illustrate a light source module with an adjustable light diffusing material illuminating scenes at a same distance in different camera modes.
Apple's patent FIGS. 4A and 4B below illustrate a light source module with an adjustable light diffusing material embedded in a mobile computing device.
Apple's patent FIGS. 7A and 7B above illustrate a light source module with an adjustable light diffusing material in an opaque state and a clear state.
Apple's patent FIGS. 5A-F below illustrate a mobile computing device with an adjustable illumination element and an adjustable light diffusing material capturing images at different distances, under different lighting conditions, and at different zoom levels.
For photography buffs, Apple's patent dives deep and presents addition segments, as follows:
- Light Source Module with Adjustable Light Diffusing Material
- Example Mobile Devices Including an Adjustable Light Source Module
- Example Uses of a Mobile Device Including an Adjustable Light Source Module
- Example Lens and Reflectors
- Concealment of Light Source Module Internals Via Adjustable Light Diffusing Material
- Example Adjustable Light Diffusing Materials
- Additional Uses of a Light Source Module
- Diffusion Control Methods
- Multifunction Device Examples
- Example Computer System
To review the deeper details, review Apple's granted patent 10,942,423. This is the first time this patent has come to light, with no patent application on record.
iDevices with Electrically Adjustable Optical Shutters
Apple was also granted a second camera patent today titled "Electronic devices having electrically adjustable optical shutters."
Apple's granted patent covers an electronic device with optical components and other components. The optical components may include an optical proximity sensor, ambient light sensor, visible light-emitting diode, visible laser, infrared light-emitting diode, infrared laser, visible light image sensor, or infrared light image sensor. An optical component window may be aligned with one or more optical component windows.
An electrically adjustable shutter may be provided. The shutter may be aligned with an optical component window or may be mounted in other portions of an electronic device. In some configurations, the shutter may overlap a portion of a display such as a transparent display. In other configurations, the shutter may overlap a liquid contact indictor, an optical data port, or a region with text.
The shutter may be dynamically adjusted by control circuitry in the device to adjust the optical properties of the shutter. For example, the shutter may be placed in a transparent state or a state in which the shutter is not transparent. During operation, control circuitry in the electronic device may place the shutter in an opaque state to hide an overlapped component from view or may place the shutter in a transparent state to allow the overlapped component to transmit or receive light. The adjustable shutter may exhibit changes in its transmission spectrum in different modes of operation and may be used as a spectral filter or neutral density filter for a camera or other optical component.
FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram of an illustrative electronic device with an adjustable optical shutter; Apple's patent FIG. 4 below is a rear perspective view of an illustrative iPhone and camera. The electrically adjustable shutter may overlap optical components and/or other structures within the interior of device.
Apple's patent FIG. 6 is a side view of an illustrative electronic device with a transparent display and adjustable optical shutter.
To dive deeper into the details of Apple's camera patent, review granted patent 10,942,412.