A patent application that was recently published shows that Apple may be experimenting with 3D cameras. This would be something similar to Nintendo’s 3DS system, which features a dual-camera setup for taking images that appear to be 3D. The system’s autostereoscopic screen makes it possible to view the images and get a sense of depth.
That’s the idea between this recent patent application, as described below:
Systems and methods may employ separate image sensors for collecting different types of data. In one embodiment, separate luma, chroma and 3-D image sensors may be used. The systems and methods may involve generating an alignment transform for the image sensors, and using the 3-D data from the 3-D image sensor to process disparity compensation. The systems and methods may involve image sensing, capture, processing, rendering and/or generating images. For example, one embodiment may provide an imaging system, including: a first image sensor configured to obtain luminance data of a scene; a second image sensor configured to obtain chrominance data of the scene; a third image sensor configured to obtain three-dimensional data of the scene; and an image processor configured to receive the luminance, chrominance and three-dimensional data and to generate a composite image corresponding to the scene from that data.
It’s an interesting concept, and it’s likely that if such a device existed it would be in an iPhone. However, it’s doubtful that we would see such technology in the iPhone 5, but anything can happen.
Our take? Patent applications get filed all the time. Each week, another handful are published. We don’t know why, but we don’t see Apple doing this in the near future, as even though the 3D would be optional, it doesn’t suit everybody, as the XKCD comic says below, 3D gives some users headaches:
By the way, you should definitely see the real comic, here. It has very cool little effect that’s worth seeing.
You can check out the patent application in PDF form here.