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June 8, 2018

Apple patents hint at smarter iPhone camera, blood pressure-sensing Watch band

by John_A

Another week, another series of Apple patents. This week, Apple has been awarded a number of mobile-related patents, including one that could help make the iPhone’s camera a whole lot smarter — a little like what Google has done with the camera on the Google Pixel.

Here’s a rundown of the new mobile-related patents Apple has been awarded this week.

A camera with in-pixel depth sensing

Perhaps the most interesting new patent is one called “Image sensing with in-pixel depth sensing,” and it could help make the iPhone’s camera imitate dual-lens camera features with only one sensor. Sound familiar? Well, that’s because it’s what Google has done with the Google Pixel. The patent highlights that the image sensor can work in a few different modes — one depth-of-field mode, one HDR mode, and one charge-summing mode. This is done with photo detectors in pixels — which can be combined to form a pair of photo detectors in two pixels, and then used to gather information like depth.

Perhaps the most interesting application could be the depth-sensing mode, as it could help a single-lens camera better create Portrait Mode effects without needing that extra data from another sensor.

The patent is a continuation of previous patents — which date back to 2013. Still, it’s nice to see Apple still thinking about improving its camera tech, especially in the light of increased competition from the likes of Google.

A concave display

The next patent relates to keeping an iPhone safe and sound in the event of a drop. The patent highlights the use of a concave display on an iPhone or iPad, which would reduce the risk of the display smashing or cracking when the device is dropped.

Of course, for technology like this the phone would need to have a flexible display — though of course that’s a little more common these days on devices with edges.

The patent is a continuation of patents dating back to 2011, so it’s interesting to see it pop up again. It means that perhaps Apple is considering implementing the patent now that flexible displays are a little more common.

A new Apple Watch blood pressure cuff

The last patent highlights technology that could help make the iPhone even better at tracking your health than it already is. The patent basically describes the use of an inflatable Apple Watch band that could be used to track blood pressure. Apple has been working on ways to track blood pressure for some time now, and it certainly wouldn’t be surprising to see the band be available in the near future. We know that the company has been working on the tech for some time now, too — the patent follows a provisional application from 2015.

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