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Apple Patent Enlightens Multiple Flashes

By - Source: Engadget | B 16 comments

Apple files a patent that harnesses multiple luminous devices such as camera flashes.

Pretty much every single smart phone around comes equipped with a camera or two. However, there are very good reasons why these portable wonders haven't replaced DSLR cameras quite yet. While phone companies globally are working hard to get phone cameras with variable shutter speeds, adjustable aperture settings, and even replaceable lenses, Apple has now taken steps to try to improve the camera's infamous reputation of taking horrible low light pictures. Their solution: synchronized flashes.

Apple has filed yet another patent, this time focusing on getting multiple devices to synchronize their flashes while a master unit takes the actual photo. The main device would first snap a preliminary shot and, after analyzing the photo, configure all the remote 'slave' devices for their flash duration and intensity, followed by a melodramatic blinding flash from all the connected devices to produce the final result. 

Note that we have used the word "devices" instead of "mobile phones" in the previous paragraph, meaning that this patent could eventually lead to your phone using everything from house lamps to tablets to professional camera photography equipment. However, knowing Apple, the technology would most likely link iOS devices together at first, and maybe even try to incorporate cross platform devices in the future. While this idea has been hanging around the photography industry for years now, this is the first time the idea has actually been applied to a patent. We hope to see other companies experiment with this kind of set-up in the future and come to an agreement with Apple concerning cross platform support.

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Top Comments
  • 15 Hide
    ingtar33 , May 28, 2013 10:38 AM
    considering the photography industry has used multiple flashes for decades i somehow doubt this patent will survive a challenge if approved.
  • 11 Hide
    teh_chem , May 28, 2013 11:31 AM
    Quote:
    I agree, ingtar. If this patent does get approved, though, I will lose absolutely all faith in the US patent system. This patent should never be approved.


    You have faith in the US Patent system...?
Other Comments
  • 9 Hide
    dgingeri , May 28, 2013 10:34 AM
    Another Apple money grab at things that have been in use for ages...
    I really hope someone in the patent office gets a clue and declares this invalid.
  • 15 Hide
    ingtar33 , May 28, 2013 10:38 AM
    considering the photography industry has used multiple flashes for decades i somehow doubt this patent will survive a challenge if approved.
  • 3 Hide
    lunix , May 28, 2013 10:43 AM
    Did anyone manage to find the Apple patent protecting "a software to retrieve existing patent filings, append the words 'on a mobile device' and submit the result as a new patent automatically" yet?
  • 7 Hide
    wiyosaya , May 28, 2013 10:44 AM
    I agree, ingtar. If this patent does get approved, though, I will lose absolutely all faith in the US patent system. This patent should never be approved.
  • 11 Hide
    teh_chem , May 28, 2013 11:31 AM
    Quote:
    I agree, ingtar. If this patent does get approved, though, I will lose absolutely all faith in the US patent system. This patent should never be approved.


    You have faith in the US Patent system...?
  • 1 Hide
    ricardok , May 28, 2013 1:21 PM
    Isn't this just like Google's patent? http://www.unwiredview.com/2013/01/29/a-nexus-or-motorola-phone-with-multiple-led-flashes-new-google-patent-says-thats-likely/
  • 0 Hide
    sundragon , May 28, 2013 1:23 PM
    Wow, no one has patented this technology up till now? I wish this site would list Samsung and Google patents as well.
  • 1 Hide
    w8gaming , May 28, 2013 3:33 PM
    There has been article describing why Apple managed to own patents that look obvious to common man. Their secret is they keep trying to rewrite the patent applications in different way until they get lucky and patent office accept it. In my opinion, the patent system is now being exploited by patent trolls. Here is the article:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/08/technology/patent-wars-among-tech-giants-can-stifle-competition.html?pagewanted=all&_r=4&
  • 3 Hide
    w8gaming , May 28, 2013 3:35 PM
    I have no objection for Apple implementing this in their devices. But patent? Now photographers all over the world have to pay Apple just to have a job?
  • 0 Hide
    falchard , May 28, 2013 3:55 PM
    Apple patenting what has already been invented.
  • 0 Hide
    echozero , May 28, 2013 4:19 PM
    While Apple is trying to patent something already exist.
    My question how does that help camera phone user? Unlike studio setting, most user take the picture with their on the fly. You probably won't have lighting issue if you have spend time to setup the surroundings. You also don't necessary have object with flash build-in near by.
    Is apple going to sell mini portable flash? or .. Perhaps people can hijack other people's i-device and use their flash.
  • 2 Hide
    micul , May 28, 2013 6:10 PM
    How can they patent something that is just an idea ?
    Until they don't prove that is working the patent should not be taken in consideration
  • -2 Hide
    g00b , May 28, 2013 10:07 PM
    I think there may be a subtlety that is being missed. The article above says it takes a preliminary picture, and then determines from this crappy picture how to configure the slave flashes for best picture. I don't think they are trying to patent the concept of a slave flash.
  • 0 Hide
    w8gaming , May 29, 2013 1:40 AM
    Having read a number of Apple "patents", I am not surprised Apple is applying the patent on a concept instead of an actual product. In fact, this is not new to the IT industry. Other companies beside Apple have done this as well. Some companies are so specialized in this they are professional patent trolls. This just show how flawed the patent system is now.
  • 0 Hide
    w8gaming , May 29, 2013 1:58 AM
    Having read a number of Apple "patents", I am not surprised Apple is applying the patent on a concept instead of an actual product. In fact, this is not new to the IT industry. Other companies beside Apple have done this as well. Some companies are so specialized in this they are professional patent trolls. This just show how flawed the patent system is now.
  • -1 Hide
    becherovka , May 29, 2013 4:41 AM
    I hate apple patent trolling too. However this one is different to others. its going to mean x number of people stand around and sink phones so that one person can take a slightly better photo. Its absolutely perfect for isheep.