Apple has a new patent in its portfolio that describes a system for capturing stereoscopic, or 3D, photos through a software-based system. The system would let average users capture 3D images without needing to worry about camera positioning or merging images together after the fact.
Apple's system works by matching up images after they've been captured and then picking the best two for the final 3D photo. The final photo appears to have depth once the computer stitches the images together.
3D photography isn't something new to Apple, at least not as far as patents are concerned. The company applied for a patent in early 2012 that described a system where a single camera could be used to capture stereoscopic images, and also covered facial recognition and facial gesture systems, and sensors that offer better color accuracy.
The 3D photo patent Apple was just granted (number 8,600,151 B2) originated at Kodak and was part of the portfolio Apple, Google and other companies purchased in December 2012. Apple picked up the patents it now holds through Intellectual Ventures, which is a patent firm Apple is a part of.
Just because Apple now holds a patent on 3D image capture doesn't mean the company plans to add the feature to future iPhones. It is, however, something the company could use to help set its camera features apart from competitors that are touting higher megapixels for their smartphone cameras.
[Thanks to Apple Insider for the heads up]