Next-Gen iPhone and iPad to Offer 3D Imaging Capabilities?

According to a new filing with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Apple is considering including 3D cameras in the next generation of iOS devices. The patent, named “Systems and Methods for an Imaging System Using Multiple Image Sensors,” shows a new set of cameras able to capture 3D pictures. The application was discovered earlier today by AppleInsider, and shows a radical change in the concept of 3G images, as a set of two cameras would be able to take 3D images without the need of heavy software processing, and would allow iPhone and iPad users to take pictures in 3D on the fly, the same way they take 2D pictures today. A stereo camera would allow to accurately simulate human binocular vision, and would give the ability to capture three-dimensional images, a process known as stereo photography. The new stereo cameras could also be used to make stereo movies as well.

Stereo Picture (source: Apple / USPTO)

The technology is not new, as it was originally invented in the 1950s, but consumer goods never picked it up, and over the last decades, the technology has been almost exclusively used in motion pictures, such as IMAX movies. The technology was recently featured in the Nintendo 3DS, thanks to a set of stereo cameras on the back of the device. To display 3D pictures, the 3DS screen offers 2 layers, able to produce an auto-stereoscopic three-dimensional effect (without 3D glasses) using a parallax barrier display. Similarly, the next-gen iPhone and iPad would offer a 3D-enabled screen, a feature that has been rumored for some time.