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Apple patent contains clues to the future of iPhone photography

Apple has patented a new camera technology that could drastically improve the photography potential of future iPhones.

The system, published yesterday by the US Patent and Trademark office, details various new technologies, including a light-splitting cube and moveable lenses.

The patent, titled ‘Digital camera with light splitter’, uses a cube to split light into three separate beams – green, red, and blue, as detailed by Apple Insider.

Each colour component emerges from different faces of the cubes, and are then received by one of three respective image sensors.

Conventional smartphone imaging, by comparison, uses just one image sensor, which takes in light from across the entire colour spectrum.

This means that each sensor can collect more information and use more pixels for each photo, compared with standard mobile camera set-ups.

The patent also details how the system will accommodate optical image stabilisation, to account for image blur.

The iPhone 6 Plus currently uses its A8 chip, gyroscope, and M8 motion coprocessor to measure how the device is being moved, and thus compensates for shift.

Apple’s new folding mirror technology will, however, tip and tilt using a powered actuator to create a stable shot.

Related: iPhone 6S release date

Another big advantage of the system is the inclusion of moveable lenses, which will allow for optical zoom.

At present, the iPhone uses digital zoom, which increases the size of the image. This causes severe quality degradation, however.

With optical zoom, the lenses will actually move to zoom in, which means the image won’t be degraded using zoom software.

The patent was originally applied for back in 2011, but has only now been granted by the patent office.

Apple may have been holding off on incorporating the technology in its handsets until the patent was accepted, although there’s no telling whether the Cupertino-based company will actually make good on the designs.

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