Apple patent links iDevice cameras for ‘social flash’

iPhone 5 camera

The iPhone is quickly becoming (or already has) the hottest digital camera on the planet. Not only does it have terrific imaging power, but with its screen is able to easily compose attractive shots. Knowing the power of the iPhone and other iDevices, Apple continually tweaks its photo-imaging capabilities.

The latest evidence being a new patent application describing a way to combine the resources of multiple devices to provide what’s being called a ‘social camera flash.’¬†The idea isn’t new. So-called slave flashes that act on the command of a main camera have been in professional photo studios for years. However, Apple’s patent application envisions iPhones, iPads and iPods linked wirelessly to illuminate a scene…

The patent application, filed in 2011 with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, describes an “illumination system” turning several iPhone, iPod and iPad devices into strobe lights controlled by a single camera-equipped unit.

Linked by either Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, the system permits the ‘master’ flash iDevice to communicate instructions with ‘slave’ units, providing directions on how to move to best illuminate the subject.

Apple patent (social flash, drawing 001)

Apple’s patent¬†abstract outlines initiating a ‘master-slave relationship” between the image capture device and at least one secondary device.

Once the master-slave relationship is initiated, remotely activating one of an at least one light source of the at least one secondary device. As the light source is activated, capturing a test image of a scene illuminated by the at least one light source by the image capture device.

An alternative to providing messages, the master device such as the iPhone could automatically change the flash brightness and other factors of secondary devices.

AppleInsider opines:

The idea of connecting multiple iOS devices, belonging to different people, that patent application can be considered a ‘social camera flash’ system, perhaps useful in impromptu photo shoots that require more than one source of lighting.

In previous patents, Apple has outlined ways to reduce a camera’s shakiness – even presenting the owner with a range of possible photos from which to choose the best exposure.

Granted, the social flash idea sounds intriguing enough.

The question is, would a group of friends bother pulling their devices out of their pocket so someone could compose a perfect shot using social flash?