Apple Wins Patent for a new Camera Flash System that allows a user to capture a photo with varying degrees of Light
Today the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially granted Apple a patent titled "Light source module with adjustable diffusion." It appears that that patent covers a future iPhone camera system that will include an advanced Flash module that contains an "array of illumination elements" and "light diffusing material. While a regular flash module could create harsh light and harsh shadows, the new flash illumination system will be able to handle a variety of lighting requirements.
Our cover image presents Apple's patent figure 9 that illustrates how a future iPhone camera will be able to execute varying light so that the focal point has a single light while a secondary light could capture another element differently as shown with light power #918 focused on a person and 920 focused on the dog.
More specifically to patent FIG. 9, Apple notes that by adjusting the diffusion of light in the bottom portion of the scene separately from the adjustment of the diffusion of light in the top portion of the scene, the light source module may provide light that is tailored to both portions of the scene.
For example, light source module #922 embedded in an iPhone may include one or more sensors that can detect the lighting conditions of subject #902 and subject #904. For example, the iPhone may determine that light #908 from the sun #906 is casting a shadow on subject #902. The iPhone may also determine that light #912 from street light #910 is providing sufficient light to capture an image of the dog (# 904). The iPhone may also determine that subject #902 is distance 918 from mobile computing device 924 that is greater than distance 916 that separates mobile computing device 924 from subject 904.
The iPhone may identify subjects in a scene, determine lighting conditions and relative distances between subjects, and determine one or more adjustments of the diffusion of light that is to be used to illuminate the scene based on these and other variables.
Based, on determined light diffusion adjustments, the iPhone may send one or more signal to the light source module and the light source module may adequately illuminate both subjects without over concentrating light on one of the subjects and causing harsh lines and shadows.
And, without providing light that is too diffuse and that does not properly illuminate a farther away subject. For example, light source module #922 may illuminate the bottom portion of the scene that includes subject #904 with more diffuse light #920 and illuminate the top portion of the scene that includes subject #902 with less diffuse light #918.
A light source module may diffuse light to compensate for multiple combinations of lighting conditions and direct light in different distribution arrangements, such as top half/bottom half of a scene, left side/right side of a scene, grid segments of a scene, and the like.
Apple's patent FIGS. 1A-B below illustrate a mobile computing device which includes an embedded light source module.
Apple's patent FIGS. 4A-D illustrate light source modules with different reflector shapes; FIG. 5 illustrates a light source module that includes multiple reflector shapes.
Apple's detailed patent covers the following segments:
- Segmented Light Source Module
- Example Shapes of Light Source Modules
- Electrically Controlled Light Diffusing Materials
- Example of Controllably Adjusting Diffusion of Light to Illuminate a Scene
- Additional Uses of a Light Source Module
- Diffusion Control Methods, and more.
Review Apple's granted patent 10,855,895 for the finer details of this invention that was granted today by the U.S. Patent Office.