One image sensor, multiple camera lenses - Apple patent hints at future iPhone camera tech

Recently, we've reported by many a camera-related patent that Apple has either been granted or applied for, most of which hint us that Cupertino might be really poised to up the already-spectacular camera game of its iPhones. Apart from the patent regarding the advanced zoom lens, Cupertino also claimed that it has invented an improved magnet-based OIS. Well, according to the latest camera-related patent, Apple might be cooking something quite intriguing.

According to the patent application description, Apple has found a way to make a single image sensor register light from two different sources. This means that both the front-facing and the rear cameras on a future iPhone might use one and the same imaging sensor, which will save a great deal of space inside the device. The current generation of the rear-positioned iSight camera and the selfie FaceTime HD one both user their own imaging sensors.
What's more, this patent also highlights the use of "machine-controlled" mirrors, the purpose of which is to guide the light from the lens to the sensor. As a result, the sensor does not necessarily need to be directly behind the lenses. The mirrors have no moving parts as they can switch between reflective and transmissive modes thanks to electric current.

Hopefully, such an invention will reduce the physical size of Apple's camera modules. The newest generation of the iSight rear camera proved quite big for the iPhone 6's ultra-thin silhouette and slightly protrudes outside of the body.

source: USPTO via AppleInsider



1. JohnK

Posts: 117; Member since: Mar 03, 2015

Apple patent troll queen. Clever ideas (somewhat since they patent variants of techs), never used to their full extent and for what? They will surely be using some old stocks of Sony sensors for a few years still to maximize their margins. They could have added 1mm to i6's chassis and maybe get a higher battery in their devices and still keeping a thin line. Or maybe they will manage to make phones as tall as they should be, and not 4.7" looking like a 5".

10. waddup121 unregistered

and let the people of phoneArena say... AMEN

13. omar300

Posts: 210; Member since: Jun 24, 2012

apple isnt the only one but for mobile technology. Yes they are the biggest mobile technology patent troll

16. techperson211

Posts: 1280; Member since: Feb 27, 2014

The king of patent trolling. Base on their phone camera it was all thanks to Sony. After this they'll call it innovation. Same old sh*the.

17. techperson211

Posts: 1280; Member since: Feb 27, 2014

I will not be surprised if USPTO approved this after all they're partners in every patent apple lay down to them.

2. scramasax

Posts: 45; Member since: Mar 07, 2015

Well said buddy...

3. Nexus4lifes

Posts: 298; Member since: Feb 13, 2014

Apple does all these patents not to implement them but mostly to stop others from using these basic techniques or troll them.

4. Settings

Posts: 2943; Member since: Jul 02, 2014

Not just Apple but all patent holders also. Not only mobile phone OEMs but everything that patent can't apply.

5. frydaexiii

Posts: 1476; Member since: Dec 01, 2011

Patent patent patent...When will Apple actually show something that works or a prototype?

6. Neros

Posts: 1016; Member since: Dec 19, 2014

And we won't see that thing in the production for at least another couple of years if at all.

7. Ruturaj

Posts: 1484; Member since: Oct 16, 2014

Apple patent hints at future lawsuits.

9. TBomb

Posts: 1579; Member since: Dec 28, 2012

Thats a good title for an article

8. tedkord

Posts: 17417; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

I don't see this becoming reality any time soon. Every glass or reflective surface means more light scatter, less getting to the sensor. The best reflective coatings on a mirror are dielectric, which reflect 99% of light, but those are very expensive and require some thickness to mirror because they put force on the substrate when applied and will warp it. And the mirror they're talking about (which can either reflect or transmit according to the current paying through it) will lose significantly more light.

11. Awesoman64

Posts: 292; Member since: Mar 18, 2015

Apple, if you really implement these, I would be proud.

12. Nathillien unregistered

Seems like they saw my comment on SlashGear last week and immediately applied for the patent. LOL Patents require something called non-obviousness - this thing is sooo obvious.


Posts: 2817; Member since: Oct 03, 2012

Hahaha Apple please give suck! Oh no keep going, the sh33p are still hungry......please feed them bullsh!t and minor upgrades......oh yes they love it!

15. ameran

Posts: 344; Member since: Dec 04, 2013

Stupid idea. It might works on the paper but they could not even provide a prototype, as the patent describes.

18. An.Awesome.Guy

Posts: 636; Member since: Jan 12, 2015

"reduce the physical size of Apple's camera modules" so they will make it thinner and still 8MP.

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