Google patent points to multi-flash smartphone camera

A new patent granted to Google suggests that camera phones could soon take another slice out of the standalone digital-camera industry.

Google has been granted a patent for LED technology that could be used to boost smartphone camera capabilities.

This image shows how Google would ring the camera lens with LED lights. Google

Patent 8,363,157, granted yesterday by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, documents how LED lighting could be used to give a mobile device the ability to fire with multiple flashes.

Relating to "flash mechanisms for digital cameras that are incorporated into mobile communication devices such as smartphones and tablet computers," the patent documents how a smartphone's shots could be improved by boosting flash capabilities.

As shown, one hypothetical design for the LEDs would ring the LED lights around the lens, where they could be selectively used in different conditions to take the best picture possible. Google's patent notes that different setups could be used to ensure that the flash modules could individually activate, be triggered at the same time, or used individually to remove particular shadows in poor lighting. It may also be possible to take pictures in succession to shoot the same image with different light settings.

In addition to rapid-fire shots, Google takes dynamic range imaging into consideration. The possibility of high dynamic range imaging is in the cards, as a phone could take a series of shots and then merge them together to create the best image possible. The patent says that "such images may appear to have greater color, contrast, or depth than a regular single image of the group would have."

(Via Unwired View)

About the author

    Charlie Osborne writes for ZDNet, SmartPlanet, and CNET. She is based in London and is a freelance journalist, designer, and photographer.


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