Apple's PrimeSense Israeli team has many, many 3D scanning camera related patents on record that relate to many kinds of 3D camera technologies. With Apple's iPhone 7 Plus users are able to create a Bokeh effect where the subject is frozen in clarity with the background slightly blurred so that the focus of the shot is emphasized. In general, 3D cameras could also be used for capturing a user's in-air gestures to control a device interface and beyond. In this particular invention, Apple's technology could also be used in their Mapping vans that use LIDAR.
Apple's patent FIG. 2 noted above is a schematic, pictorial illustration of the optical scanning device showing a scattering line used in monitoring operation of the device.
Apple's Device 20 noted above could be particularly useful as a part of a 3D mapping system or other depth-sensing (LIDAR) device, in conjunction with a suitable scan driver and mechanical packaging, as are known in the art.
It's technically possible that Apple's mapping vans are using modifications that take advantage of their own 3D scanning technology as noted in this patent filing.
Today's patent application 20170038581 is an extension of their work that first came to light back in May 2016.
Apple's work on 3D imagery is on all levels of the art, and knowing that 3D imagery will become more popular over time, Apple's WebKit team has now proposed the creation of a new 3D graphics standard for the web.
Apple's patent was filed in Q3 2015. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
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