New Patent Could Add 3D Technology to the iPhone 7’s Dual-Lens Camera System

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For a while now, a number of patents and design mock-ups for the iPhone 7 are pointing to a brand new camera system. It is said to feature dual-lens technology, which will allow for improved low-light photos, advanced zoom, and even depth analysis. To add onto this dual lens camera system, Apple is also creating a miniature structured-light projector, for which they have just been granted a patent.

Entitled “Integrated structured-light projector,” the patent defines a particular element of the dual-lens system that could help with the 3D mapping of objects. In essence, a new (and integral) part of the camera will be a tiny projector element that will capture 3D mapping (or depth mapping) of an object. Doing so will allow photographers to interact and alter the image in more advanced ways, including the ability to refocus the photo.

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Patently Apple describes the proposed process for mapping:

“A light source, such as a laser diode or LED, transilluminates a transparency with optical radiation so as to project a pattern onto the object. An image capture assembly captures an image of the pattern that is projected onto the object, and a processor processes the image so as to reconstruct a three-dimensional (3D) map of the object.”

As of late, sources believe that this new dual lens camera system and associated technology will appear on the iPhone 7, which is believed to debut in the fall of this year.

But Apple isn’t the only one working on 3D mapping camera technology. The company has some competition in the market from a mainstay tech name.

Last month, competitor Intel was granted a patent that complements their RealSense camera. Intel’s patented technology scans the focused image in real time to gain 3D data and then lets the user interact with the image with three-dimensional effects, which can be achieved through air gestures. And although their RealSense camera was first showcased at CES in 2014, it has yet to make its way into a mobile device. But apparently there are a number of prototypes in the works.

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