Apple’s iPhone camera can do almost everything these days from recording slow-motion videos to stabilizing hand-held shots. But a future iPhone — such as the anticipated “iPhone 7” — could be able to take photos focused on multiple points.
An Apple Inc. patent application published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Thursday, titled “Mobile Camera System,” reveals a camera invention that would use two image sensors to allow an iPhone to simultaneously take two photos focused at different distances. The data from both sensors would then be stored in separate images.
Another version of the patent proposes a similar implementation that instead uses sensors at two different focal lengths, which would enable the iPhone to capture both a wide shot of a scene as well as a zoomed-in shot as a photo or video. Apple points to capturing sports video as one implementation of the invention.
In one example, the company notes that a user could record a zoomed slow-motion video of a baseball batter while simultaneously capturing 4K resolution footage of the field. An editing feature in the iPhone would then combine the two pieces of footage into one video that could be subsequently shared via social media or other methods.
It’s not the first time that Apple has expressed interest in technology that uses multiple cameras in its smartphone. In April 2015, Apple acquired LinX, an Israeli camera technology company that used multiple sensor modules to enable DSLR-quality camera images and optical zoom lens in a smaller package, according to the Wall Street Journal.
As with many of Apple’s patent applications and patents, it’s unknown if or when it plans to implement the feature. Apple first filed the patent application on June 30, 2015, and credits Apple director Claus Molgaard and camera engineer Iain A. McAllister for the invention.