Apple patents new multi-point camera focusing system

On May 23, 2012


Those that follow the patents awarded to Apple might have noticed that Apple was awarded a patent on Thursday for a multi-point focusing system that integrates with devices capable of multitouch input.

The awarded U.S. patent No. 2012/0120227 for “multi-point touch focus” basically describes a system that allows for users to select two or more areas of focus on a touchscreen.

The patent states that since cameras are becoming more and more developed the risk of a picture not turning out as expected increases. So to solve this dilemma, Apple proposes a solution that combines multitouch input, live-preview imaging and advanced auto-focusing algorithms and tracking assets.

From the patent abstract:

A camera includes a lens arranged to focus an image on an image sensor and a touch sensitive visual display for freely selecting two or more regions of interest on a live preview image by touch input. An image processor is coupled to the image sensor and the touch sensitive visual display. The image processor displays the live preview image according to the image focused on the image sensor by the lens. The image processor further receives the selection the regions of interest and controls acquisition of the image from the image sensor based on the characteristics of the image in regions that correspond to at least two of the regions of interest on the live preview image. The image processor may optimize sharpness and/or exposure of the image in at least two of the regions of interest. The image processor may track movement of the selected regions of interest.


Since this form of system will require a substantial amount of computing power, the patent does suggests that a dedicated chip be used to process the raw sensor data as well as control the camera’s operation. Readers might know that previous iDevices have all used the main SoC to process image data.