A single iPhone may not provide enough light to shoot a dark scene. But a handful of them remotely controlled might just do the trick. At least, that's the idea behind a patent filed by Apple.
Published today by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, a patent application dubbed simply "Illumination system" describes a method whereby multiple iPhones or other mobile devices team up to act as camera flashes. The primary device could be a camera or a smartphone. The secondary devices could be smartphones, tablets, or other gadgets with their own built-in flash or a flash connected to a charger or charging cable.
The primary device would first take a test shot to figure out how much lighting is required for the scene. Data from that test shot would be sent to the secondary devices to determine their location and the intensity of the flash, and to coordinate the timing of the flash. The devices could do their work automatically or rely on people holding them to set the controls. The data itself would be sent via a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection.
The idea is similar to the process used by professional photographers who set up automated strobe lights to fire off a flash all at the same time. But in this case, any mobile device with a flash could be called into duty to help light the scene.