It’s always interesting to see the different patent applications that Apple submits to the USPTO. Even though most of them rarely make it into consumer products, they give us a glimpse inside Apple’s top secret R&D labs.

The latest one to surface in the United States Patent and Trademark Office database covers a device with a removable back panel, which could bring about swappable camera lenses and other attachements…

Judging from the filing, users would be able to purchase these back panels, as they would any other accessory. They’d feature different lenses (zoom, macro, etc.), different flash sizes and other add-ons that would significantly improve the device’s picture-taking abilities.

So what is this device? Well, although it looks like an iPhone, the application doesn’t really say anything about the handset. PatentlyApple postulates that it could be a future iPod touch model, or perhaps even a standalone camera.

The iPod touch theory is particularly interesting. The line wasn’t updated last year for the first time since its inception, hinting that the company may be contemplating where to take it next. Perhaps it’s considering taking on the point-and-shoot camera industry more directly with the product, in which case these removable back plates would actually make a lot of sense.

Realistically, we don’t expect to see this invention pop up in Apple’s products anytime soon. We all know that the company is extremely interested in the field of photography. But just how far it’s willing to take that interest is still unknown.

What do you think? Would you be interested in such a device?

  • insp1112

    Wait a minute. Two lens? Yeah, on the second picture, there’s second lens on the bottom of the back panel. That’s kind of weird.

    PS. Could it be likely to bring LYTRO on the next gen iDevice?

    • Loopthree

      It looks to me that you could spin the back panel (second image) around to use either of the two lenses.

      LYTRO would be amazing though.

  • Better would be a rotating lens changer.

    • Loopthree

      Or some kind of polymorphic lens.

  • What a coincidence, I mentioned something like this, as a joke, on my FB page 2 years ago.
    Could be good if it works right. I do love my photography.

    • insp1112

      Watch out. Apple may have inspired by you!

      • jose castro

        yep now they are going to you house and putting a black bag over your head and we will never see you again hahahaha

  • jose castro

    they need a swappable battery, that’s what they need

  • JoeNorth5

    It’s a great idea. Instead of changing lenses and having them stick out and be unpocketable, Apple is thinking of offering a change of back cover for those who want to pay for upgrading the camera lenses. Of course like any patent, it will take a few years to ever come to market and in that time frame we’ll see Apple refine the idea if it ever gets the nod to move forward. iOS features like tickets and coupons relating to Apple’s upcoming Passbook were first in a patent published over 2 years ago. So the idea could take time to come to market, but I think they’re on to something here.